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Spike in demand for flowers gives hope to growers

/ 05:02 AM February 13, 2021

FLOWER POWER Cut flower farmers in the upland of Claveria town, Misamis Oriental province, are hoping that the economic slump they experienced last year due to the coronavirus pandemic is nowover, with demand picking up as Valentine’s Day draws near. —ERWIN M. MASCARIÑAS

CLAVERIA, MISAMIS ORIENTAL—Giving love on Valentine’s Day could help farmers recover from the economic woes of the pandemic.

Flower growers in this town are banking on expressions of love, especially during the day of hearts on Feb. 14, to recover from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic to their livelihood last year.

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Events and small gatherings are beginning to pick up in major urban centers in northern Mindanao with the lifting of stringent health restrictions as virus infections eased. These are driving increased demand for flowers, brightening the income prospects of growers based in this only landlocked town of Misamis Oriental.

Claveria has long supplied cut flowers, especially roses, to Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Butuan cities. The business boomed as transport of the roses became easy after a national highway that snaked through the town toward Gingoog City was built more than five years ago.

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The town’s cold climate and fertile lands of pyroclastic deposits from nearby extinct volcanoes Mt. Balatukan and Mt. Mogabon has made it ideal for flower production.

The rose plantations are concentrated in a small valley community of Barangay Mat-i where the flowers are harvested at least three times a week, reaching between 3,000 to 5,000 dozens of cut roses when the buds are yet to blossom.

Growth driver

The Municipal Agriculture Office expected the cut flower industry to drive agricultural growth in 2020, said municipal agriculturist Pat Domaloan, until the pandemic happened.

The lockdowns prevented the transport of the roses. The number of events also nosedived.

“We did not anticipate that the impact brought by the travel restrictions would be this big. The pandemic brought huge losses to the cut flower industry,” Domaloan said.

Domaloan recalled that between March and October last year, most of the roses just rotted in the farms, unable to reach the markets in Cagayan de Oro and other parts of the region. That time, some of the farms in the town were already supplying roses to as far as Cebu City.

It was only when restrictions loosened at the end of the year when cut flower production gradually climbed, boosting sales that were only kept afloat by those who buy for growers of ornamental plants, which became popular during the lockdown.

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“Valentine’s Day will be a huge boost to the cut flower industry in the town and most farmers already prepared for it since late January,” Domaloan noted.

Recovery prospects

He said orders and reservations were booked since early this month by resellers in Cagayan de Oro City and other parts of northern Mindanao.

Andre Tapongot, a rose farm manager, said that on Valentine’s Day, the roses sell from P350 to P450 per dozen, from only as much as P80 on regular days.

Hence, Tapongot pins the hope of recovering from last year’s losses during the upcoming heart’s day.

Tapongot said that the farmers who stopped planting roses had revived their plots to ride into the market bandwagon.

From only about 50 hectares, the flower farms have increased to some 80 ha now, Domaloan estimated.

It takes four to five months to have initial harvest of roses after budding. An average of 400 dozens are harvested per hectare.

Varieties available include Holland long stem red roses, red blood and cabbage white roses.

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TAGS: Economy, farmer, flowers, pandemic, Production, valentines day
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