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Horticulture in Dounan nets $17 million in exports

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Vendors and buyers at the flower market in Dounan, in China’s Yunnan province. KT

The cultivation and export of fresh flowers of almost every variety imaginable and value added related decorative products has brought in approximately $17 million to Dounan, in Southern China.

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Dounan, a town located in Yunnan province, is one of the four main production bases in China for flowers. It boasts the biggest flower wholesale market in Asia, and accounts for 70 percent of the market for freshly cut flowers across medium and big cities in China.

Addressing approximately 50 media representatives from 13 countries, Sun Xin, executive office manager at Dounan Flower Industry Group Co Ltd, said fresh flowers alone did not make up all the sales recorded in 2017.

“Value added products such as pots, vases and decorations actually contributed significantly to the export figure.

“Our peak season is winter when demand for certain species of flowers such as lilies grow exponentially and fetch high prices in international markets.

“Everyone is happy: the farmers who grow the flowers, the agents who buy them and bring them to Dounan, and the shipping companies. They all get a good cut,” Mr Xin said.

He said most farmers in the sector are usually smallholders who rely on flower cultivation as their main source of income and plant other crops to earn extra cash.

There are also large-scale farmers who grow flowers on huge estates and use advanced irrigation systems, green houses and organic methods for pest control, as well as grafting to form new species or make existing species more exotic, as it’s the case with blue roses.

“The blue rose is not coloured after they have been harvested, as many believe. On the contrary, the colouring is induced following a scientific method through a controlled irrigation system just before the plant starts to develop its buds.

“The result is a beautiful blue rose, which unfortunately does not fetch a high price in the international market, but is demanded by consumers in some nations in Southeast Asia,” he said.

Mr Xin pointed out that Cambodia has the potential to become an international player in flower cultivation.

“Cambodia currently exports orchids to some countries. With the right techniques and support from the government as well as technical aid from China, Cambodia could emerge as a leading exporter of not only orchids but also other species such as daisies, chrysanthemums and roses.”

For 20 consecutive years, Dounan has ranked first in terms of trading volume, and has become a “barometer for prices” of freshly cut flowers in China and Southeast Asia, Mr Xin explained.

In 2017, more than 7.6 billion freshly cut flowers were traded in Dounan. The town’s flowers were shipped to more than 50 countries worldwide, with South Korea being the biggest buyer.

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