Pandemic helps Bulacan plant nurseries, gardens grow into P1-B industry
GUIGUINTO, BULACAN—The lockdowns and other quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have favored at least one industry in the province of Bulacan.
This “garden town,” which celebrated its 24th Halamanan (Garden) Festival last week, has nurtured a P1-billion plant industry because of the community of “plantitos” and “plantitas” (social media term for people who enjoy taking care of plants) that grew from 2020 to 2021.According to Mayor Ambrosio Cruz Jr., Guiguinto serves as a nursery for garden plants that sell briskly all over Luzon.
He said 250 Guiguinto residents have reported “phenomenal” sales of ornamental plants and a growth in landscaping contracts from the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Batangas, Laguna and Quezon.
Clients also come from Baguio City or from Metro Manila while some garden owners have expanded their business to Occidental Mindoro province due to the growing demand.
“Before the pandemic, Guiguinto gardens were worth more than P500 million. It now has doubled to more than P1 billion as plant breeders expand operations,” Cruz said, referring to the total combined assets and profits of local garden owners in the last two years.
Local officials, however, have yet to determine the industry’s contribution to Guguinto’s coffers.
Rolando dela Cruz, municipal agriculture officer, said the flourishing trade of ornamental plants had given garden owners in the town steady income.
Despite the garden industry’s success, the town staged the Halamanan Festival from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 with strict health restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Cruz said, adding that they had to cancel the street dancing and float competitions for the second year.
This year’s event featured an exhibit of succulents, ornamental plants and topiary.
Other activities were figure plant competitions, a display of the best bonsai, on-the-spot dish garden contests and landscaping challenges, according to the mayor.
Cristian Javier, president of Guiguinto Garden Cooperative, said those who discovered gardening as a hobby during the lockdown have become entrepreneurs themselves.
—CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE INQ
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