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The story behind successful high end Phalaenopsis cultivation in Mexico
Chiapas Flower: from primitive to high tech
Chiapas Flower was established in 1983 by Mr and Mrs Boehme, Rainers Boehme's parents. Initially, the business started with oil palm and coffee production. Due to a decrease in profitability, the Boehme family expanded their product range with another product, namely Anthuriums in 2000. The tropical climate seemed to be very beneficial for the growing process of the Anthurium.
After this discovery, the company started to test the growing process of the Anthuriums in a small and primitive greenhouse. It was a huge success. To learn more about the flowers and the production process, the company visited Anthura in the Netherlands. Afterwards, they expanded and over the last decades, the greenhouses have become more and more modern. Currently, Chiapas Flower grows Anthuriums pot plants in a 4,500 m2 sized plastic greenhouse and Anthurium cut flowers in a 10,000 m2 sized plastic greenhouse.
All young plants of Chiapas are still supplied by Anthura. Chiapas Flower solely focused on Anthuriums till Anthura proposed another flower, the Phalaenopsis. In 2007, Chiapas Flower started to grow Phalaenopsis in unheated greenhouses. The market for Phalaenopsis was booming and the demand for high quality and high volumes of flowers was large. Therefore, the company established a modern heated 9,500 m2 sized greenhouse in 2012.
The current greenhouses are equipped with high tech technologies. For example, the company installed an Aqua-Hort machine, to tackle the Erwinia bacteria in the orchid production. Other technology in use at Chiapas are energy and shading screens, extensive climate controls, and bench systems. Due to these new technologies, Chiapas Flower is able to operate sustainably. 70% of the energy consumed by the greenhouse is generated by the company itself. “It saves money and it is good for the environment,” says Rainer Boehme.
The volumes produced are mainly sold through wholesale in Mexico. About 15% of the production is sold to the US. When transporting the products, the company uses their own trucks to deliver the flowers.
The competition for the Anthuriums was quite fierce. “It is relatively easy to grow Anthuriums. Therefore, small growers can easily start growing this species.” Phalaenopsis, on the other hand, are more difficult to grow and therefore less attractive for smaller growers. The strong feature, that makes it possible for the company to beat the competition is their ability to produce large volumes of high quality.
Boehme foresees a bright future for the Phalaenopsis sector. However, further investments in the greenhouses remains questionable. "It all depends on how the country develops, and how we are affected by changes in the government. In the end, a flower is a luxury product that is sensitive to changes in the economical situation in the country."
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