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Building a World-Class Flowers Island
Taiwan ˇ¦s agriculture is implementing a bold plan and a team of ˇ§special forcesˇ¨ is formed to conduct research on flowers with an aim to build Taiwan into a world-class ˇ§flowers island.ˇ¨ Formally named ˇ§key flower industry research group,ˇ¨ the team is headed by Director-general Junne-jih Chen of Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute under the Council of Agriculture (COA).
ˇ§ flowers Island is a concept,ˇ¨ said Chen, adding that ˇ§many flowers abroad came from Taiwan but people there who bought the flowers did not know their flowers from Taiwan.ˇ¨ Nowadays Phalaenopsis orchid is the only flower that can be associated with Taiwan by foreigners, so one of the missions for the special force team is to assist the flower industry in researching and developing some leading species of flower and techniques for other countries to think of Taiwan when they see these flowers.
Of course, this is not their single mission. In addition to various techniques of planting flowers, they also have to work on marketing research, conducting in-depth analysis of foreign flower markets throughout the world for the domestic flower industry to formulate appropriate sales strategy, and expanding markets for Taiwan flowers by developing cross-sector cooperation between the flower industry and other industries.
ˇ§ The importance of marketing is no less than that of production techniques.ˇ¨ Good industry surveys are very important because they can provide information for producers to take into consideration of quantity control. ˇ§One of our research strategies is to conduct market surveys,ˇ¨ said Chen. The strategy is to conduct survey on habits of flower consumption in each importing country to find out their respective taste, favorite species, styles, and flower consumption patterns in each season. With this information, research units will know the direction of their researches and farmer assistance agencies will understand how to assist local flower farmers and production and marketing groups can formulate appropriate production control and marketing strategies in the future. Taiwan can seize the opportunity first to promote flower exports when there are clear objectives.
ˇ§ Our second strategy is to break the whole into parts. Since the era of flower farmers working on oneˇ¦s own will be phased out gradually and even production and marketing groups are not capable of doing export trade by themselves, so we are developing professional production areas,ˇ¨ said Chen. His team guides flower farmers to form clusters first, then the government provides assistance in flower packaging, assembling and related export procedures, cnsequeritly, ˇ§independent armyˇ¨ of flower farmers will be formed one by one to penetrate the world flower market following the special force team.
Chen pointed out that ˇ§there is also a strategy for technological research and development. In the past, flower researches were done in a laissez-faire manner and researchers could conduct a detailed study of whatever subject they liked, no matter whether it would actually benefit Taiwanˇ¦s agriculture. Now we have formed a research group and they are given specific subjects to work on.ˇ¨ Even with a designated subject, the researchers have to conduct the research according to market and production requirements, not to study at their own will.
Production techniques are very important, too. ˇ§Breeding seedlings of Phalaenopsis orchid to grow and flower had a defective ratio of close to 50% previously. Now the ratio is much lower because of improved production techniques,ˇ¨ noted Chen.
He said the information technology industry actually is highly interested in the flower industry and an electronics company had planned to integrate orchids into its distribution channel, including the channel in Austria. Although the idea was deemed quite feasible, it was stillborn because Taiwan could not supply sufficient orchids for the company to distribute. Chen noted that although the quantity required by the electronics company can be provided by 10 flower traders, the only problem is the traders cannot provide orchids with uniform quality. And doing things according to standard operating procedures is the only way that can meet the companyˇ¦s requirements.
Chen is very confident about the future of Taiwanˇ¦s flower industry. In addition to building Taiwan into a world-class flowers island, his team is striving to make Taiwan the global orchid operations center, said Chen, hoping that in the future people can see Taiwan flowers everywhere in the world.