A blue-ribbon industry

Source: Taiwan Today

Taiwan’s standing as a leading player in the global orchid industry received a welcome boost this week in the shape of British royal approval and critical recognition at the biggest horticultural event in the U.K., the Chelsea Flower Show.

Queen Elizabeth II, a renowned green thumb, made a point of including the Taiwan exhibit during the event’s May 21 press and VIP preview day. She was joined by the Dukes of York and Kent, and Prince Michael of Kent.

Welcomed by Shen Lyu-shun, ROC representative to the U.K., the queen and her fellow royals cast an approving eye over the display designed around the theme “universal glory of the dragon.” Symbolizing the people of Taiwan’s best wishes for the queen during her Diamond Jubilee and the city of London as it gears up to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, the 60-square-meter display was brimming with more than 2,000 orchids of over 50 varieties.

Featuring mainly indigenous Cattleya, Paphiopedilum and Phalaenopsis orchids, the pavilion speaks volumes about the abundance of creativity and productivity defining this signature Taiwan industry.

But the queen was not the only one to recognize and appreciate the beauty of Taiwan’s orchids at the show. On May 22, the island continued its string of top performances at the event after organizers awarded it a gold in the Great Pavilion Awards. This follows past efforts garnering silver and gold in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Such acclaim is a vote of confidence in Taiwan’s orchid industry and will help further expand its presence in the lucrative U.K. and European markets.

Taiwan’s moth orchid exports to the U.K. increased from US$980,000 in 2009 to US$2.53 million in 2010, rising to US$3.52 million in 2011. This year, the value of orchid exports is expected to grow by between 20 percent and 25 percent.

But these healthy numbers would not be possible without the dedication of local growers and long-running ROC government efforts to cultivate the industry and promote Taiwan as the kingdom of moth orchids. Although this support takes many forms, one of the most successful is the Taiwan Orchid Plantation in Houbi District, Tainan.

Launched in 2004, the 200-hectare facility is home to large-scale orchid cultivation and serves as a center for coordinating research into cloning, shipping and quarantine procedures. The plantation also plays a leading role in implementing industrywide strategies for upgrading management practices and adopting globalized standards.

Rising from humble beginnings 20 years ago, the local orchid industry now produces a third of the world’s output and is quickly finding its place in the sun. But equally important, this praiseworthy achievement is boosting Taiwan’s international profile and bringing prosperity to the people.

Write to Taiwan Today at ttonline@mofa.gov.tw