What type of flower that Singapore Export?

Have you also been mesmerized by the rendezvous floral decorations at various events like marriages, anniversary ceremonies or similar other times? These floral decorations are given a unique charm and beauty by combining different type of fresh cut-flowers. Surprisingly, it is not to think that all of the flowers are from the local land, some of them are imported too. If your attention was caught by tiny cut- flowers with blue and pink hues, you must know that these flowers are the very famous Orchids and most probably, they were exported by Singapore to your country.


About cut-flowers and Orchids

Cut-flowers can be simply understood as the flowers cut out from their parent plant and then tailored into becoming instant use ornaments for decorative floral arrangements like garlands, wreaths, and other displays. Orchids are held to be the diamonds of the global cut-flower industry, no less than the roses and tulips among popular choice.

Orchids are one of the top diverse flowering plants in the flora world and about 25000 species are known. Out of these, more than 200 species are Singaporean natives alone and 60 more are only thriving in Singapore. Orchids with a good fragrance, shape, color, life, and foliage are highly prized ones. The Singapore floral industry commercialized the flower due to its aesthetic value only.


Importance of the Orchids for Singaporean culture

Orchids are very closely knitted in the historical, cultural, and economical fabric of Singapore and nearby Asian regions. Let’s see some of the interesting facts:

  • The first recorded reference of Orchid’s existence in Singapore’s landscape exists at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG). This institution was founded in 1859 and its Garden Superintendent, Henry James Murton, was responsible for laying out the first Orchids collection there. The National Orchid Garden boasts a collection of over 2000 hybrids and 1000 species of Orchids.
  • The Orchid hybrid that is the prime face of its floral industry is Vanda Miss Joaquim. It has rose-violet petals and a fiery orange color near the stem joint. The Species of Vanda Teres and Vanda Hookeriana were discovered to be the parent plants.
  • Vanda Miss Joaquim Orchid became the national flower of Singapore in 1981. Its traits of resilience, long blooming, hardiness, and color were equated with the spirit of Singaporean community.
  • The flower got its name from the garden owner whose garden had these flowers. Her name was Agnes Joaquim and she was a horticulturalist. Since then, the practice of naming Orchid hybrids after their plants began.
  • Orchid Diplomacy is another naming practice whereby the flower names are kept after distinguished people to forward a goodwill sign. The SBG is the main keeper of this ritual where around 200 species were named such way in a single year.
  • The local fashion and lifestyle industry of Singapore also utilizes Orchids for different purposes like event decoration and jewellery making.


Rise of the Singaporean Orchid Industry

You may have heard of Orchid Cultivation at your local land, but a large part of these flower stocks are imported and one major country who supplies these flowers to countries across the globe is Singapore. The flower industry of Singapore is majorly popular for its cut-flower Orchids that also make up to be a big part of its export trade.

The rise of the Orchid flower industry of Singapore owes majorly to these factors-

  • Impetus by the local growers and the Singapore Orchid Grower’s Association towards orchid hybridization and experimentation for production of new Orchid species
  • The tailoring of Orchid production industry by the dealers and traders with the best of strategies
  • The efforts of the exporters in expanding the trade in all directions
  • The strategic use of air transport industry of Singapore for compartmentalizing the Orchid trade

As per the latest data, over 20 nurseries on the Singaporean island specialize in breeding and selling /exporting Orchids. Orchid export in Singapore started in 1939 and the country became its second biggest exporter around the globe in 1999. The peak of Orchid trade held a net value of around 23.4 million US dollars in 2011.


Key players in the Singaporean Orchid trade

Orchid cultivation reached the peak during 1950s-80s. in Singapore due to the surge in research and hybridization initiatives. Orchids were the status symbols for rich farmers and the collaboration of the public with private revolutionized the industry.

The community, public and private sector involvements are represented by the Orchid Society of South East Asia, National Parks Board, Singapore Orchid Growers’ Association, private Orchid nurseries, and other local community gardener groups. These synergize the efforts for cultivation, hybridization, and conservation of Orchids along with the exchange of knowledge of ideas.


Current status of the Orchid export

In the recent years, the Orchid trade reported a global slump and a fall in the cultivation as well due to environmental factors, foreign competition, rising costs and incompetency of the authorities.  A 10 year low happened at the end of the 2007-16 period with around 40% decline in Orchid production, said AVA. This amounted to a 45% export decline too leaving the net value at approximately 8.9 million US dollars, according to UNCTSD.

However, the ray of hope for the Orchid industry shines with the National Parks Board and gardening hobbyists working towards the re-composure of the cultivation and export of Orchids. The farmers are also hopeful that the authorities would support them with the infrastructure and investment to continue with Orchid farming and thereby uphold the community cultural heritage. Events like Annual Singapore Garden Festival, Community in Bloom initiative, Singapore Orchid Show, and different online publications like Garden’s Bulletin Singapore, Gardenwise, and Malayan Orchid Review are working tirelessly to revive the sector.

The future of the Orchid export sector of Singapore looks hopeful and bright. The home gardeners are carrying forwards the process extensively to keep it alive and promote it too. The authorities seek to broaden the industrial landscape and start with a holistic approach. It can be, thus, believed that Singaporean Orchid export would be revived and the flowers will continue to beautify precious moments of people around the world.

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