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Lily grower René Kuiper, Expoflora:
"Low-season sales elevated by Costa Rican Mother's Day"
René Kuiper and Silvia Vega of Expoflora at the Proflora in Bogota, Colombia. They are one of the few flower growers in Costa Rica. "There are 2 large lily growers who mainly export to the United States and some growers of other flowers that supply the local market", says René Kuiper, Managing Director of Expoflora.
Expoflora mainly grows lilies for the US and Canadian market - about 95 percent is being exported to the US. During this time of the year, from June to August, when the demand for flowers is low, they decrease their production volumes by over 50 percent. "If we run on full capacity, we produce about 300,000 stems a week and now, about 150,000 stems a week", says Kuiper.
Kuiper in the greenhouse. Expoflora cultivates lilies in a 20ha greenhouse.
For Mother's Day, they increase their production. "The cultivation of the lily is easy to program, so we often grow an additional 100,000 lilies for this special day." Usually, the second quality lilies stay on the local market as they are too ripe to export or have some small flowers, but for this holiday Expoflora also puts some premium quality lilies on the local market.
In Costa Rica, the lily is the second most popular flower behind the rose for Mother's Day. Roses, however, are not being cultivated in Costa Rica anymore, so they need to be imported. "About 30 years ago, they grew roses, but the cultivation soon shifted to Colombia and Ecuador as the Costa Rican climate is too humid. Nothing is left, just some small hobby growers that supply the local market. So, we need to get them elsewhere and this is something we do too. On a weekly basis, we import around 10,000 roses from Guatamala. And for Mother's Day, this volume increases to about 70,000 to 80,000 stems", says Kuiper.
During Mother's Day, not many bouquets of flowers are sold. "The majority of the flowers are integrated in arrangements with other kind of flowers. However, the lily or rose always takes center stage in a Mother's Day arrangement."
Early September, the season will start again for Expoflora. "Then, we will increase our production by over 50 percent and start growing at full capacity till June. The peak will be between January and Mother's Day in the United States", he says.
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