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Business blooming for county's orchid growers

By HU MEIDONG/ZHANG YI | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-03 09:05
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Chang Ter-shi tends to his orchids in Nanjing county, Fujian. [Photo/China Daily]

For nearly two decades, Chang Ter-shi has run the orchid business his father founded in Nanjing county, Fujian province, known as the home of Chinese orchids.

The 57-year-old not only grows the exotic blooms, but also promotes awareness of and information about them. He believes the development of the county's orchid industry has been driven by improvements in cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation.

The Chinese mainland's growing economic strength and the introduction of policies to make it more convenient for entrepreneurs from Taiwan to enter the agricultural sector have seen more people from the island arriving to start businesses, he said.

Nanjing, a major orchid production base, is home to 86 businesses in the sector, including 20 that are funded by investors in Taiwan. It has annual output value of 1.55 billion yuan ($239 million), according to the county's forestry bureau.

"Orchid companies from Taiwan have provided support for the county in terms of scientific research, seed breeding and the introduction of new varieties and skills," said Han Qingjiang, who oversees the local flower industry for the bureau.

In 1993, the county, which is the ancestral home of many Taiwan residents, introduced flower and seed businesses from the island.

That year, Chang's father was a member of the first group of entrepreneurs from the island to invest in the county after seeing Nanjing orchids at a market in Guangdong province.

A field trip to Nanjing convinced him that the local environment was suitable for orchid cultivation.

That fact, and the realization that the local culture and customs were similar to those in Taiwan, led him to open a business in the county.

"Back then, all the houses were made of earth, and it was hard to build greenhouses. The traffic infrastructure was poor, so it took about six hours to drive from the nearby developed city of Xiamen to the county on the earth-and-stone roads," the younger Chang said.

"Now, this small county has a beautiful environment. The transportation facilities, such as bullet trains and expressways, have made travel in the mainland so much easier."

Following his father's death in 2004, Chang moved to the county from Taiwan at the age of 40 and married a woman from Sichuan province.

He said he wanted to take care of the orchid garden that housed his father's dreams, and his assimilation was helped by the many similarities in language, customs and living habits in Taiwan.

Under his leadership, the area covered by the orchid garden has expanded by about one-third. Moreover, prices are rising as the flowers become better known, and a pot of rare orchids can sell for as much as 50,000 yuan.

"The orchid is a cultural symbol of China, and more people are beginning to appreciate its elegance," Chang said, adding that as the owner of a pioneering business, he wants to establish an orchid expo.

"Local orchid growers are cooperating with their peers from Taiwan to expand the sector," he said.

"Growers in Taiwan have advantages in terms of flower varieties and planting skills, but the Nanjing locals are adept at using marketing techniques, such as online sales."

Yang Jie in Fuzhou contributed to this story.

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