Appreciating Flowers and Grasses

Formosan Tatsujins
Little Knowledge, Big Surprise
County Flower
New Visions for the Floral Industry in Taiwan
Feeling Good About Flowers and Grasses

Formosan Tatsujins

The Flowering World in the Bottle—Zai Zhong-liang

(by Shieh Pei-jun, Editing Department)

    Huatan is the homeland of brick kilns and jasmines. Recently, a magical new flower species known as the bottled flower emerged in Huatan of Changhua. This plant costs about a thousand dollars a bottle and drew immediate global attention. Though orders from the Middle East to Scandinavia are endless, Americans, Russians, Australians and Dutch are very curious about this newfangled gadget and want to have a look of its wonders. Mr. Zai Zhong-liang, winning the Shen Nong Award (Magic Farmer Award) at 24, is the person who behind this magical flower.

    What makes a man enter the world of flowers? Zai showed a special interest in flowers when he was a kid. As a third grader, he worked part-time at a physician's home to learn about growing orchids. The physician used to give him less perfect orchids for free. With his skillful hands, Zai could turn the throwaways into something wonderful. He said proudly, "I grew those less perfect orchids better than they had been, and even the physician wanted to buy them back from me." It was how little Zai made his pocket money.

    Zai who graduated from the Changhua Vocational High School never gave up his passion to grow flowers. He used to buy flower seeds with his pocket money until his yard was packed with flowers. With three strong fundamentals (capital, experience and know-how), he believed that knowledge was power. Therefore, he kept improving his gardening knowledge and successfully enrolled in the Department of Agronomy at National Taiwan University. After graduating from the NTU, Zai decided to further his study in Japan by following in the footsteps of a Japanese professor at NTU. Now, he has already earned his master’s degree in agronomy from the University of Tokyo and is pursuing a doctorate in the area.

    In the nursery filled with the fruit of Zai's painstaking labor, thousands of small port plants were dwarfed by Zai, said, "Dwarfing, accelerated ripening, accelerated flowering, and disinfecting are the 4 major processes for culturing bottled flowers. There are 4 steps in the disinfection process before flowers are transplanted into the valuable high-density crystal bottle. Then it takes 5 more days to observe the growth of flowers transplanted inside the bottle. If fungi grow inside, everything is in vain. Therefore, I am working on how to contain the defective rate at 5-10%; otherwise, I will lose all my investment."

    A person who likes creating a sense of conflict, Zai puts 2 adverse types of plants inside the same bottle. One is the cactus which grows only in the arid dessert region. Another one is the pine and cypress which grows on humid and cold mountains. Both species grow perfectly inside the same bottle. That is the creativity and outstanding achievement of Zai. In fact, beauty out of conflict is commonly found in the flowers bottled by Zai.

    Though export is Zai's primary focus, many people from Taiwan have made enquiries. Dwarfed flowers are lovingly and fancily placed inside a bottle. They need neither care nor watering, but the culture solution inside to keep them blossoming. Therefore, many florists Contact Zai to ask for dealership rights. Today, bottles of flowers are seen in many department stores and boutiques in Taipei, as well as stores in Jia and Kending of Tainan.

    Committed to seeking benefits for the lazy gardener, Zai understands fairly well that agriculture in Taiwan needs a transformation, and continual innovation is the only way to survive. Therefore, he has developed, one after another, many unrivaled achievements, such as the seedless litchi and bottled orchid and rose; fluorescent plant, wasabi spicy sauce, and wasabi royal jelly skincare technologies. He said, "I slept 3 hours a day for these achievements." Zai who believes in no pain, no gain has displayed the quality and set out an example of success.


President of Orchid Hospital-Chen Ron-hui

(by Zeng Wen-tien, Harvest Farm Magazine)

    Enthusiastic in promoting public good, Chen Ron-hui is a modest, polite, and responsible person who spares nothing to participate in community affairs and development. He has also devoted himself to agricultural affairs and volunteer (tour escort) work. He has excellent leadershipMr. Chenability, and his achievements in the production and marketing of phalaenopsis and in the R&D of cycnoches, cataseum and mormodes have won unanimous applause from the orchid circle. His contributions in the species R&D and breeding are well-known in the orchid community around the world. He keeps up-to-date with the latest information to enhance the production efficiency of orchids. His efforts and endeavors in cultivating the export market and exposures in orchid shows worldwide over the past 8 years have allowed him to find a place in the international stage. In 2005 he won the Shen Nong Award. He deserves to be an example to farmers and civilian diplomacy.


    After graduating from the National Pei-men Senior Agricultural and Industrial Vocational School, Chen went to northern Taiwan to develop his career. He got married and settled down in Taipei and ran a knitting factory. He suffered health problems later from too many social gatherings and too much overtime work. For the sake of his health, he decided to shut down the knitting factory. He returned to his hometown for recuperation and began to grow orchids to rekindle his dream of tending to flowers. Despite the strong disapproval from his parents, his wife gave him her full support. After entering his beloved orchid business, Chen discovered that there was an abysmal difference between interest and profession.

    To enrich his professional knowledge of orchids, he enrolled in the Phalaenopsis Production Automation Technology Training Course organized by the Council of Agriculture (COA). Whenever he has problems with growing phalaenopsis, he will seek help from experts at the Tainan District Agricultural Research & Extension Station of COA.

    At Jumbo Orchids, run by Chen, there is a precision-control greenhouse and 4 plastic cloth greenhouses with a total area of about 400 ping for growing phalaenopsis. The annual output of 40,000 pieces is still growing steadily. The quality control also complies with the international standards. The cycnoches has an annual output of about 15000 pieces grown within the mesh net house with an area of about 1100 ping.

    The marketing channels for Jumbo Orchids include self-run export, export shows, cooperation with trading companies, agricultural specialty shows, floral markets, mail ordering and home delivery. It is a multi-channel marketing network. As a whole, most of the orchids from Jumbo Orchids are for export with the remainder for domestic sales. Major export markets include Japan, the USA, Canada and Europe. Markets in SE Asia, Hong Kong and China is also growing. Either through cooperation with trading companies or self-run marketing, Chen participates in 5-8 orchid shows in Japan every year. More importantly, he has won praise from orchid fans every time. For domestic sales, Chen distributes orchids through the farmer's association system and sells products at agricultural specialty shows held across the country. He also publishes his achievements and displays his products at the agricultural window of the Taipei Farmers' Association. Small transactions are delivered by means of home delivery, and channels spread across urban and rural areas. Moreover, Chen set up a bilingual website for Jumbo Orchids about 7 to 8 years ago in order to promote orchid sales by means of web-marketing. The website is quite popular indeed. After a consumer orders orchids on the Internet, Jumbo Orchids will deliver the items to them by the Speed Post of the Chunghua Post if the quantity is small. In fact, web-marketing has successfully promoted orchids from Taiwan across the world.

    The orchid is the favorite flower of Chen's. Currently, the sub-tribe of the catasetinae is the most special species under R&D and breeding at Jumbo Orchids, and 98 hybrids have been successfully bred, including 7 special artificial genuses that have been registered officially. It is estimated that another 10 artificial genuses and 30 species will be registered in the near future. To ensure the IP rights of these species is respected, Chen has applied for species registration to the Orchid Registration Office, Royal Horticultural Society, United Kingdom.

    Chen's dedication to protecting orchids has won recognition from many orchid growers and fans. He also built an Orchid Hotel inside the Jumbo Orchids for interested orchid fans and helps them take care of their orchids. Moreover, he also runs the Orchid Technology Enquiry Center and the Orchid Hospital to help orchid friends solve problems relating to their orchids.


    After entering his beloved orchid business, Chen discovered that there was an abysmal difference between interest and profession. To enrich his professional knowledge of orchids, he enrolled in the Phalaenopsis Production Automation Technology Training Course organized by the Council of Agriculture (COA). Whenever he has problems with growing phalaenopsis, he will seek help from experts at the Tainan District Agricultural Research & Extension Station of COA.

    At Jumbo Orchids, run by Chen, there is a precision-control greenhouse and 4 plastic cloth greenhouses with a total area of about 400 ping for growing phalaenopsis. The annual output of 40,000 pieces is still growing steadily. The quality control also complies with the international standards. The cycnoches has an annual output of about 15,000 pieces grown within the mesh net house with an area of about 1,100 ping.

    The marketing channels for Jumbo Orchids include self-run export, export shows, cooperation with trading companies, agricultural specialty shows, floral markets, mail ordering and home delivery. It is a multi-channel marketing network. As a whole, most of the orchids from Jumbo Orchids are for export with the remainder for domestic sales. Major export markets include Japan, the USA, Canada and Europe. Markets in SE Asia, Hong Kong and China is also growing. Either through cooperation with trading companies or self-run marketing, Chen participates in 5-8 orchid shows in Japan every year. More importantly, he has won praise from orchid fans every time. For domestic sales, Chen distributes orchids through the farmer's association system and sells products at agricultural specialty shows held across the country. He also publishes his achievements and displays his products at the agricultural window of the Taipei Farmers’ Association. Small transactions are delivered by means of home delivery, and channels spread across urban and rural areas. Moreover, Chen set up a bilingual website for Jumbo Orchids about 7 to 8 years ago in order to promote orchid sales by means of web-marketing. The website is quite popular indeed. After a consumer orders orchids on the internet, Jumbo Orchids will deliver the product to them by the Speed delivery by the Chunghua Post if the quantity is small. In fact, web-marketing has successfully promoted orchids from Taiwan across the world.

    The orchid is the favorite flower of Chen's. Currently, the sub-tribe of the catasetinae is the most special species under R&D and breeding at Jumbo Orchids, and 98 hybrids have been successfully bred, including 7 special artificial genuses that have been registered officially. It is estimated that another 10 artificial genuses and 30 species will be registered in the near future. To ensure the IP rights of these species is respected, Chen has applied for species registration to the Orchid Registration Office, Royal Horticultural Society, United Kingdom.

    Chen's dedication to protecting orchids has won recognition from many orchid growers and fans. He also built an Orchid Hotel inside the Jumbo Orchids for interested orchid fans and helps them take care of their orchids. Moreover, he also runs the Orchid Technology Enquiry Center and the Orchid Hospital to help orchid friends solve problems relating to their orchids.


Father Orchid—Zhou Bo-qi

(By Chen Li-wen, Editing Department)

    The Taiwan International Orchid Show 2005 ended on April 10. Amongst nearly 100 orchid growers participating in the show, the 35-year-old Zhou Bo-zi was one of a handful orchid growers who moved into Phase I of the Taiwan Orchid Plantation. Though the Fangmei Orchids he runs is not cash-rich, with the low-interest loans from the Council of Agricultural (COA), Zhou could build a well-equipped glasshouse for growing orchids.

    "Plants must be scared in order to grow better!" explained Zhou vividly about why we need to "scare" orchids by holding 2 pots of phalaenopsis in different tones, "this one with a brighter tone was grown on the mountain about 1,000m from sea level. They grow better for reproduction because their survival is threatened by the environment." Zhou who demand quality spends more on transportation and "force majeure" because he wants to grow better orchids. According to a temple which orders orchids from Zhou over time, "Flowers withered quickly because of the ethylene produced from burning incense at the altar. However, orchids from Zhou have a longer florescence than ordinary flowers. More importantly, they are cheaper than the roses."

    The family business Fangmei Orchids of Zhou never commercialized over the past 30 years. Therefore, it lacked opportunities for exchanging information with the outside world. Though the family was the first to grow Cymbidium goeringii in Taiwan, they didn’t registered the species at the Agriculture and Food Agency of COA. As a result, competitors developed the Wanjiaxi and Phal. Taipei Gold species after obtaining the bulb root from Zhou's uncle and even registered them under their own names. Zhou said, "It was a pity! So we are going out now!" With the passion for orchids, Zhou completed his study and worked in Taipei for 10 years before going home, a place filled with the fragrance of orchids. Now, Zhou is going to revolutionize the "closed door policy" of his family business. He participated in international orchid shows and used the Taiwan Orchid Plantation as the exchange platform to promote Fangmei Orchids to the world. As the representative of the few orchid growers moving into the Plantation, the self-motivated Zhou has a beautiful blueprint of his own: orchid farmers entering the Plantation greenhouses become neighbors and form strategic alliances, and support one another in orchid supply and information integration.

Premium quality orchids are from the Netherlands, cheap orchids are from China, so variety has become the only competitive strength of Taiwan which is sandwiched between these two countries. Whenever foreign orchid growers want to buy bulb roots from Zhou’s orchid for private culturing, he insists to sell only the common old species, even though the price may be lower. He believes that even though he can make more money by selling them new species, it will mean damage to the orchid industry of Taiwan for the long run. "Continual innovation is the only thing that makes Formosan phalaenopsis famous around the world," said Zhou proudly.

According to Zhou, buying orchids from Taiwan is like buying a lottery ticket. There are different species for different climates. When low-temperature orchids are sold to tropical countries, the florescence will be shortened. It requires luck for people who know little about growing orchids to buy the right orchid for themselves. Zhou urges, growing orchids is like taking care of children: we can't spare the rod! Holding a gorgeous phalaenopsis, Zhou said in a gentle voice, "Selling flowers is like marrying a daughter to someone, people will take it if they like it." In Zhou's eyes, every orchid is like a child of his own, and every piece is unique and perfect. If you ask him to pick one for you, you must be killing him!


Oncidium Champion King—Chen Wen-qin(by Zeng Wen-tien, Harvest Farm Magazine)

The oncidium loved by consumers at home and abroad won the reputation of being a "dancing girl" for its gorgeous posture. While flowers on the spike are plentiful and small, the oncidium is easier to pack and more durable to transport than the phalaenopsis. It is suitable for both sea and air transportation. Therefore, it is the top cut flower export of Taiwan in terms of quantity.

In recent years, the Harvest Floral Production and Marketing Group headed by Zeng Wen-tien from Zutien Township of Pingtung County formed a strategic alliance with the Daeng and Huo floral production and marketing groups of Taichung, thus sharing a fifth of the country's total floral export. The leader Chen Wen-qin of the Third Zutien Township Floral Production and Marketing Group, was thus elected as the winner of the Shen Nong Award 2005.

Chen is a retired lieutenant colonel of the ROC Air Force. After returning home in 1993, he went to Indonesia with his father-in-law to run a farm by importing bean seedlings to Taiwan. This first contact with agriculture taught Chen that this is a laborious business which takes time to bear fruits. Even though he ran a successful business overseas, he could not reproduce the success back home in Taiwan. Therefore, he decided to return to Taiwan and focus on running an agricultural business in Taiwan after much deliberation.

Zutien Township in Pingtung County has a long history of floral practice. A floral production and marketing group was established in 1984. They learned how to cultivate the oncidium from central Taiwan in 1992. After 3 years of practice, they began to export cut flowers in July 1995. The export in 1995 was 119,400 pieces. Eyeing the developmental potential of the oncidium, Chen bought land and built related facilities in Zutien Township with his savings and began to learn even more about growing oncidium. In the following year, the cultivation of oncidium in Kaohsiung and Pingtung expanded rapidly, and oncidium became the most popular cut flower with great potential.

Realizing the importance of Marketing, Chen formed in 1997 the Ssecond Zutien Ttownship Floral Production and Marketing Group with 76 oncidium growers from 18 townships in Kaohsiung and Pingtung. He borrowed the old fertilizer warehouse of Zutien Farmer's Aassociation to be used as a marketplace for the group and developed the oncidium export market by means of strategic alliances. Of the total 3.8 million pieces of oncidium exported from Taiwan in that year, 974,450 pieces were from the group. This has built up the reputation of Zutien Oncidium. The output in the following year increased to 1.2 million pieces. The output of oncidium in Kaohsiung and Pingtung reached an economic scale in 1999, and the borrowed market place was divided into 6 parts. In order to enhance the quality of exports, with the guidance from local agricultural authorities, Chen and other members of the group raised funds to built a new marketplace that complied with the export standards and formed the Third Zutien Township Floral Production and Marketing Group.

Chen is a highly decorated military officer who has received countless medals and honors from the air force. He established a process management system for managing the flower production and marketing group with his logistics management experience accumulated when he was in the air force. He was also the general manager of the marketplace, to play the role as a professional manager who promotes the businesses of the group. Everything ran smoothly and the sales grew exponentially. Today, the Third Zutien Township Floral Production and Marketing Group is the biggest oncidium production and marketing group in Pingtung, and Chen was commended as a model farmer in 2002. People call him the leader of leaders.

According to Chen, the climate and geology of central and southern Taiwan are ideal for growing oncidium. The domestic and export sales of the species are just second to the phalaenopsis. The oncidium can be distributed in the form of cut and export flowers. The oncidium has a short history in Taiwan. Its domestic sale started in 1992. Trail export to Japan also started that year. Yet, export sales grew annually, and the total in 2003 was 15 million pieces.

To reduce the export transportation cost and to extend the shelve life of oncidium, Chen cooperated with Dr. Huang Jao-jia of the COA Agricultural Research Institute to develop stay-fresh technology for the oncidium during sea transportation. As a result, the life of oncidium in vase has been extended from 7 days to 12 days. At the same time, the export packing and distribution models have been improved by changing huge package with air transportation to small package with sea transportation in order to save NT$3 per piece from transportation and customs clearance. Moreover, Chen launched cooperation with Dr. Wang Hun-li of the Department of Plant Industry, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, to improve the disease resistance of oncidium with biotechnology in order to reduce the cost for disinfection and to enhance the quality of oncidium.

When Chen chaired the Third Zutien Township Floral Production and Marketing Group, there were many agricultural magazines available at the office for members and visitors to read. Chen also supported the one specialty for one township policy promoted by the government. He has won the champion for float making at the Floral and Fruit Festival organized by the Pingtung County Government.

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