To raise the international profile of Taiwan's horticultural prowess, the Council of Agriculture (COA) partnered up with the Taiwan Floriculture Exports Association (TFEA) to launch the Taiwan Pavilion at the 2012 Floriade World Horticultural Expo, a once-a-decade affair hosted by the Netherlands. After a six-month run in the event that concluded recently on Oct. 7, the Taiwan Pavilion was selected the winner of the indoor international competition category, one of the highest honors offered by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).
The allure of Taiwan’s ‘flower power’
In order to prep for the 2012 Floriade World Horticultural Expo, the TFEA mobilized the nation's agricultural producers and flora associations to help supply signature Taiwanese plants such as Phalaenopsis ("moth orchids"), Oncidium ("spray orchids"), Dracaena sanderiana ("lucky bamboos"), Anthurium ("flamingo flowers"), Cypripedioideae ("lady slipper orchids"), Cymbidium ("boat orchids") and Pachira aquatica ("money trees"); the production and logistics alone took more than 300 days to complete. At the exhibition located in the Dutch city of Venlo, the pavilion organizers utilized millions of potted orchids and vase plants, thousands of living sculptures and even more freshly cut flowers to craft the elaborate Taiwan Pavilion. A hundred-strong team consisting of world-class horticultural experts and florists made it possible to decorate the pavilion with a different theme each month in the span of 187 days, thereby reflecting Taiwan's soft power through the quality and creativity of the floral displays. The exhibitors even staged traditional tea-making ceremonies, the COA added, noting that the fusion of live flowers with intricate cultural elements offered visitors a true glimpse of Taiwan's beauty.
Taiwanese orchids bask in international limelight
The Floriade can be considered the grandest of all international flora expos, convening only once every ten years in the Netherlands. More than fifty teams representing cities, countries and organizations showcased their handiworks at the 2012 Venlo Floriade, which ended up tallying a total of 2 million visitors from all over the world. Featuring up to 30 horticultural and cultural events throughout the 6-month expo, the Taiwan Pavilion was also where most Europeans first laid eyes upon the island's latest horticultural miracle, a new orchid variety christened "Snow White." Dutch television networks even recorded footage of the Taiwan Pavilion prior to its dismantlement, indicating substantial European interest in Taiwanese horticultural products and paving the way for closer trade relations.
Taiwan’s floral exports jump by 17.65%
In a move targeting European market share, the COA has been advocating local producers to bid for European florist orders and to participate in international horticulture competitions. Export figures indicate that Taiwanese floral exports reached US$175.9 million in 2011, representing a 17.65-percent increase in comparison to 2010 numbers. Last year alone, floral exports to Europe amounted to US$35.32 million, which translates into a 50.88-percent growth from 2010 sales and is mostly accounted by high demand for the auspicious "money trees" and the delicate "moth orchid" seedlings. The COA pledged to continue its efforts in cultivating new species, safeguarding patents and intellectual properties, strengthening transnational marketing campaigns and solidifying the nation's image as a first-class agricultural producer – all in the hopes of maintaining Taiwan's competitive edge in horticulture and fostering a sustainable floral industry for the nation.