Monday, February 18, 2008

Cut flower boom in the Philippines

Benguet, one of the coolest places the Philippines can ever bestow, does not only attract visitors because of its variety of tourist attractions like the famour Banaue Rice Terraces and the thousand years-old mummies in caves.

Likewise, tourists are drawn to come to Benguet, via Baguio City, the country's summer capital, because of its thousands of cut flower varities that abound all year round. And business has never been so good as it is today, when imported cut flower species from other countries have been propagated and are now mushrooming all over the province and the nearby places on commercial scale.

What makes Benguet ideal for cut flower farming is attributed to two important factors: fertile soil and the cool atmosphere that abound. This is not to mention the high elevation that keeps the ground moist all the time. No wonder that Benguet has not slackened as a primary source of cut flower export in the country.

According to Teresita L. Rosario of the University of the Philippines' Horticulture Department, the major players in the marketing of the cut flowers in the Philippines are the breeders/growers, input suppliers, traders, cooperatives, transporters, brokers, exporters, importers, institutional buyers and walk-in consumers.

"New and improved varieties of cut flowers form the backbone of the industry", she stated in her paper entitled Cut Flower Production in the Philippines. "Breeders, therefore, play an important role by developing the varieties and hybrids and help in the production of planting materials for the commercial growers. Input suppliers include the distributors and dealers of farm chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and the like," she stated further.

Unlike in other countries, marketing of cut flowers is done only by a few cooperatives. "Attempts have been made by some people to channel their cut flowers through their cooperatives but somehow, it is easier and more convenient to sell their produce individually."

A big bulk of the country's cut flowers was exported to South Korea, comprising 46% of the total export. While the rest of the exports went to Japan, Brunei, Hongkong and Italy include anthuriums, liliums, and roses. More than half of the exported cut flowers go to Japan.

However, Chrysanthemums and carnations constitute the bulk of imported flowers from Australia, Holland and Malaysia. Almost half of the flowers are imported from Holland, she said.

Most of the cut flower exports were sourced out from the upland areas of the Cordillera Administrative Region, where Benguet province is a part. While the rest are distributed throughout the Calabarzon Area and some parts of Mindanao like Davao City, Zamboanga City and Cagayan de Oro City.

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