The allure of orchids

PERAK may soon ‘bloom’ with world-class orchids if a proposal to earmark tracts of infertile land for flower growers to nurture their plants receives a blessing from the state government.

State executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said he would bring up the idea at the next executive council meeting as soon as he receives a working paper from the Ipoh Orchid Society.

“It is a good idea. I was told we don’t need fertile soil for orchids. We only need a few acres to grow the plants.

“We can zone areas of wasteland for the industry and it will generate income for many in the state,” he said after launching the society’s orchid show which was held beside Stadium Indera Mulia.

The society’s secretary Rajah Sreenivasan said Johor was Malaysia’s largest exporter of cut orchids, with 256ha of land generating RM400mil in revenue a year.

“Most of these orchids are grown by Singaporeans and the flowers are exported all over the world to places like Japan and Europe,” said Rajah.

On the orchid show held in conjunction with Ipoh City’s 21st anniversary, he said the competition attracted 300 entries, a large number due to the hot weather.

The event, which showcases 1,500 types of orchids for sale and display, ends tomorrow.

The grand champion of the orchid show competition was an Eria floribunda, a palecoloured jungle species nurtured by Chiae Kit Hong who works as a senior manager in Pengkalan in Ipoh.

A stunned Chiae, 49, said it was his first time exhibiting his beloved plants after five years of tending to over 300 blooms at home.

“The original wild species are always the best. They are one of a kind and their flowers are especially nice.

“I expected my orchid to win (in one category), but I didn’t expect it to be named grand champion,” he added.

Some 70,000 pots of flowers are also up for sale at the show, ranging in price from RM3 to hundreds of ringgit.

The Ipoh Orchid Society has been organising shows in conjunction with the city’s anniversary since 1997.

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