Pune: Come February 23, the Hindustan Antibiotic Exhibition Ground at Pimpri will be in full bloom. A three-day “International Flora Expo 2018” will be held from February 23- 25. This is the 13th edition of the expo. Addressing a news conference here on Wednesday, Jafar Naqvi, president of Indian Flowers and Ornamental Plants Welfare Association, said, “The aim of this expo is to have everything related to flower business under one roof. Information about land to exports should be available for farmers and other visitors. We also want to strengthen trade bonds with newer business opportunities.” The expo will be inaugurated by actor Jackie Shroff. It will also host Indian floral artist championship for the first time. National-level flower designers, suppliers, florists and wedding planners will participate in the championship. Flower and plant industry excellence awards will be given at the expo to recognise the efforts of flower, plant and green industry organisations. Visitors from over 150 countries are likely to participate at the exhibition. Over the past five years, the floriculture industry has been growing at a steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 25%. According to a report by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the industry has grown from Rs 340 crore in 2008 to Rs 546.7 crore in 2017. The value projected for 2018 is over Rs 600 crore. “The country has exported 22,000 tonnes of floriculture products worth Rs 547 crore in 2016-2017. The major destinations were the US, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and United Arab Emirates,” said Naqvi. Speaking about GST and its impact, Vishwas Jogdand, president of Indian Greenhouse Manufacturers Association, said, “Currently, polyhouses, which comes under the slab of pre-fabricated buildings, are taxed at 18%. We have requested the government to reduce it to at least 12%.” Naqvi pointed out that the subsidies given to farmers by the government will not be beneficial if products are taxed at such a high rate. The associations also sought a ban on use of plastic flowers. “In weddings, planners usually use a mix of artificial and real flowers. But all of these go to the dustbin. There have been so many instances where cows or buffaloes have died after consuming artificial flowers. The government can start by at least banning plastic flowers in government offices,” Naqvi said. Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with News App . Download The Times of India news app for your device. Read more City news in English and other languages.