Flower farmers down in the dumps


A worker packing flowers in Cameron Highlands. - Filepic

PETALING JAYA: Flowers that are often associated with love and affection have had little use during the movement control order (MCO) period, resulting in tonnes being thrown away.

As of now, flowering plants estimated to be worth close to RM40mil have been disposed of since the MCO was implemented on March 18.

As flowers are deemed non-essential products, all related trading activities were not allowed, said Cameron Highlands Floriculturists Association president Lee Peng Fo.

With the MCO now extended to April 28, the association has projected losses to be over RM50mil by the end of the month.

“Malaysia is one of the major exporters of cut flowers worldwide, with a majority of floriculture products produced for export.

“About 90% of flowers from Cameron Highlands are exported to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Australia and the Middle East.

He said the floriculture products for export and domestic markets included roses, gerbera daisies, carnations, sunflowers, baby’s breath, hydrangea and other ornamentals.

According to the United Nations International Trade Statistics Database, Malaysia’s export of fresh cut flowers reaches more than US$100mil (RM432mil) per year.

The annual revenue from cut flowers and flower bud exports saw a steady increase since 2016 at US$104mil (RM451mil), US$108mil (RM467mil) in 2017 and US$116.mil (RM502mil) in 2018.

“Compared with vegetables, flowers have a longer agriculture cycle of between three and a half to four months.

“After throwing away floriculture products, farmers have been planting fewer flowers due to uncertainties. A small number of farmers have resorted to selling directly online to ease their losses.

“But it takes a technology-savvy farmer to do so, ” he said, adding that shipping was another concern due to the flowers being considered non-essential.

Lee noted that some farmers who only used to grow flowers had resorted to planting both flowers and vegetables to mitigate their risks.

“However, farmers are facing logistical problems in marketing their vegetables.

“For now, we can only scale down and keep farming while waiting to see what should we do next, ” he said.

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