Floriculture - The Taiwan Experience
To Taiwanese entrepreneurs, agriculture as a business is not that lucrative. However, a subcategory of the industry which is floriculture does. Floriculture is the propagation of orchids or other ornamental plants and has been now a big business venture in Taiwan. In 2006, Taiwan has produced more than four hundred million US dollars worth of horticulture crops like orchids, anthurium, foliage plants and the likes. Much of its produce is exported to Japan, the US, Europe, Hong Kong and worldwide. In 2006, Taiwan has exported worth of seventy seven million US dollars floriculture products and the 2007 figures are expected to be higher.
The aggressive entry of entrepreneurs has increased ten times floriculture production area from 1978 to 2006. It was just 1,242 hectares in 1978 and it had reached to 13,375 hectares in 2006. In 1975 floriculture crops where produced in open fields whereas today, the norm is to produce them in high tech greenhouses. Although the area devoted to floriculture has increased more than ten times since 1978, the value of the floriculture products had increased more than thirty times.
Orchids had contributed some forty seven million US dollars or fifty seven percent of its floriculture exports in 2006. Some sixty eight percent of the orchid's flowers which come in various colors and sizes are phalaenopsis. The rest are accounted for by cymbidium and oncidium. Taiwan is considered to be the number one phalaenopsis producer in the world and it is the only country that can export to the US without removing the plant from its growing medium.
In comparison to other crops, in floriculture one can earned US$ 151,000 in phalaenopsis orchid alone in a hectare per year as compared to say a hectare of rice is usually US$ 4000 a year. No wonder that the young generation business minded Taiwanese are attracted in growing orchids as a business. The Taiwanese government is very supportive of the floriculture industry and financing can also be obtained under favorable terms from financing institution to those who wanted to venture on it.
Recognizing the potential of the ornamental horticulture industry, it has established the Floriculture Research Center in 2001. Research is focused on addressing technical problems in the flower industry. It is specifically interested in producing new cultivors of orchids and other crops with outstanding traits. The plant could be more resistant to pests and diseases, harsh growing conditions, higher yielding and its flowers could also have better transport quality, brighter colors, longer vase life and so on.
The Floriculture Research Center has registered some fifty five new hybrids of phalaenopsis with the British Royal Horticular Society. Some of these hybrids are now franchised to accredited nurseries which produced them in commercial scale for sale to local and export markets. The center is developing three different types of phalaenopsis. They are the standard size with tall flower spikes , the medium height and the dwarf in which has a potential niche market. Researches on the bigger phalaenopsis include the production of cultivors that have more floral branding, flowers with thicker texture for longer shelf life and so on.
One of the flowering plant given attention which has a potential export to Japan is anthurium. The research center has already bred two commercial varieties with high quality traits. There are many more still unnamed hybrids which are being tested for different desirable traits. One technology developed by the center to solve blight disease of anthurium is the growing of the plant in a soil less medium and on above ground benches.
Research work at the Floriculture Research Center continues in its laboratories as well as in its twenty one hectare experimental fields where a number of greenhouses are used for studies in different aspects of flower production.