County's wealth entwined with flourishing orchids

Wengyuan in Guangdong has seen annual sales hit 30b yuan in just over two decades

By LI WENFANG in Shaoguan, Guangdong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-05-30 07:11
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A researcher studies orchid seedlings in a laboratory in Wengyuan. PARKER ZHENG/CHINA DAILY

Liu said his company's orchid breeding program is based on market forecasts, with trips made annually to conduct market research. "We learn people's demand through market research. For example, they may get tired of too many reddish flowers. Big plants could fall out of fashion, with a change in people's aesthetic preferences and smaller residential housing units," Liu said.

It takes eight to 12 years to sell a newly developed orchid variety on a large scale. The company has developed up to 500 orchid varieties, which can be grown on a commercial scale. "Without new varieties, you can never retain market share," Liu said.

The varieties developed in Wengyuan have won 29 top awards at national orchid expos.

Liu also undertakes field trips to discover new wild orchid varieties. In the future, his company hopes to conduct orchid breeding in space to develop new varieties, and also promote standardized farming practices to improve quality control.

Different orchid species can be seen in traditional Chinese paintings, and often denote cultural refinement. The plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum are praised as the four "gentlemen" of Chinese flowers.

Chinese orchids sell well, especially in the northern part of the country, where they can easily survive indoors and brighten interiors in winter, Liu said.

Wengyuan has 22 varieties of wild orchids, with more than 1,500 Chinese orchid varieties and over 300 exotic orchid varieties grown in the county.

Online offerings

Technology has transformed Wengyuan's orchid industry in another way.

About 700 million yuan, or almost a third, of its 3 billion yuan in annual sales are now done online, according to Lan Baoling, deputy dean of Guangdong Songshan Polytechnic College's Rural E-commerce Industry Department.

Wengyuan Wanyi Information Technology Co generated more than 30 million yuan last year from online sales of orchids, said Yan Lianhua, the company's executive director.

Yan has e-commerce teams at her Wengyuan farm and at a flower market in Foshan, Guangdong. Her company sells moth orchids, which are classified as exotic and are highly profitable. However, they constitute only a minor part of the Wengyuan farming operations, she said, adding Chinese orchids make up the lion's share.

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