The Philippine flower industry has gone a long way since cut flowers were its major produce in the 1970’s and growers were local hobbyists and plant enthusiasts. During the 1980’s the flower industry became more commercialized as it generated huge profits and had lots of potential to earn foreign revenues. The land area of flower farms grew and growers adapted modern techniques and machinery to produce flowers both Filipinos and other people around the world can enjoy.
Over the last two decades, growers and enthusiasts realized that the high return on investment, higher standards of living, rapid population growth, and an influx of tourists led to more fickle clients who only want high-standard cut flowers. For a period of nine years (1991 – 2000), fresh cut flowers and buds earned USD 371,281 annually. There was an increase in the domestic market’s demand for cut flowers and it grew to such an extent that the Philippines had no choice but to import flowers like orchids and chrysanthemums to meet the demand – particularly on Valentine’s Day, All Saint’s Day, school graduation months of March and April, and the Christmas season.
All sorts of flowers from asters to roses are cultivated throughout the Philippines. Chrysanthemums, sampaguita, and gladiolas are grown in open fields or in the mountains north of Luzon. Roses and gerberas are grown in greenhouses because the structure protects them from the heavy rain and the intense summer heat. Jasmine and sampaguita carry heavy religious connotations and are strung into garlands to be offered to statues in churches. Gardens for these flowers are usually located along roadsides or near churches so the grower has an easier time selling them.
Despite innovations and new technology, horticulturists in the Philippine flower industry still face a few constraints and challenges – especially small farmers. For one thing, structures like greenhouses have high costs that they cannot afford. The technology in the country still can’t handle some new varieties of flowers like calla and gerbera. While production technology can be imported, new agricultural chemicals need to be bought along with it. Combined with high import taxes, acquiring these can be very expensive. Even access to credit sources is a problem due to high interest rates on loans.
Although the Philippine flower industry is already picking up, horticulturists still encounter problems meeting the local and worldwide demand for cut flowers. These issues need to be addressed so the country can cut down on import costs, and so the businesses of small growers can thrive as well as the big players in the Philippine flower industry.