Blooming business for orchids

PETALING JAYA: Orchids are sought after for souvenirs, decorations and landscaping as they are unique, colourful and beautiful.

Although there is high demand for orchids, production is insufficient, say orchid farmers.

United Malaysian Orchids manager Eric Kok said there are fewer orchid farmers after the pandemic.

Based in Rawang, the wholesale orchid farm only sells in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

Kok said many orchid farms were converted to growing other produce.

He said so far, the farm has seen an 80% increase in orchid sales this year compared to 2023.

“We don’t produce enough for export and have maximised our land space,” he said.

He added that exporting is not profitable for the farm due to the additional costs involved.

A Bernama report on Saturday quoting Mohamad Nizam Malik, the head of the Floriculture Industry Unit (Floriculture Industry Development Division) of the Agriculture Department, said Malaysian orchids could contribute up to RM4bil a year to the floriculture industry due to high demand from other countries.

However, he said that to meet the demand, Malaysia needs to farm 120ha of orchids.

“Currently, there are 50 orchid farms managed by local entrepreneurs that have produced yields, and we expect more orchid farms to be developed,” he was quoted as saying.

He said Malaysian orchids are in demand from countries such as Singapore and the Middle East, like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

When contacted, a co-owner of Exclusive Orchids, known only as Su, said the orchid nursery would usually export to Brunei but had slowed down in the last few years.“Recently, there are not many orchid farms as it is a challenge to grow orchids. It takes a longer time to grow than other ornamental plants.

“It also takes time and effort to breed hybridised orchids that are healthy and consistent in quality,” she said, adding that many Malaysian florists source orchids from Thailand.

She also said phalaenopsis orchids are popular among young people, and that more efforts are needed to promote other orchid varieties.

Federation of Malaya Orchid Society president Tony Tan said Malaysia has the most species of orchids in the world, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Unfortunately, we have been lagging behind in growing new hybrids and exporting orchids,” he said.

He said most of the orchids sold commercially are hybrid variants rather than their native species, as there are more variations in the colours and patterns.

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