Robert Wang, Apollo Farm, on their recent projects

Vietnam: "We are working on a new platform for Phalaenopis trade"

“Our weekly cut flower sales went from 10,000 to 2000, as the Vietnamese COVID-19 restrictions have recently severely impacted our Phalaenopsis sales,” says Robert Wang, Marketing and Sales Manager at Apollo Farm. The Vietnamese company grows both cut orchids and pot orchids in their greenhouse and sells their products under the brand name Sunpride. Wang is hopeful that the flower sales will soon pick up again and is in the meantime focusing on innovative projects that will help improve their business. From AI to VR, Wang explains what it is that we can expect in Apollo Farm’s near future.

The Apollo team at HortEx Vietnam 2020

Impact of COVID-19
Wang explains that COVID-19 is still a serious issue in Vietnam and that it is affecting their flowers sales. “Our cut flower sales went from 10,000 a week to 2000 stems a week. There is nothing we can do about this situation. The government applied a restricted policy to prevent a further spread of COVID, causing many flower distributors to stop operations. Therefore, it is very challenging for companies to deliver flowers, and many are forced to throw them away.”

New varieties being tested in the greenhouse

Overall, however, their yearly flower production has been slightly increasing. “We used to produce 1.4 million cut flower stems per year, which has now increased to 1.5 million. We thought 2021 would see an increase as well, but COVID restrictions got in the way. However, we are hopeful that Lunar New Year will improve our business again. The celebration is held on February 1, 2022, and always leads to an increase in flower demand.”

Cut flower packing team in Vietnam

AI to recognize Phalaenopsis disease
According to Wang, Apollo Farm is taking this time to focus on projects that will help their company improve in the future. First of all, they are working with the National Tsing Hua University’s department of ‘Power of Mechanical Engineering’ in Taiwan to build an AI system for their greenhouse. “This system will help to recognize diseases on our Phalaenopsis. There will be a camera in the greenhouse that can scan the leaves and detect if there are any diseases there. So far, we have given the system more than ten thousand photo examples of rotten Phalaenopsis leaves, so that it can recognize the patterns. At the moment it has an accuracy of about 88-96%, depending on different symptoms. This will help us become much more efficient, as currently our young plants from Taiwan need to be checked by employees before they get transferred to the greenhouse. And it will not only save us much time, it will also improve the quality of our Phalaenopsis.”

Plants in the Apollo greenhouse, cultivated with Bark Medium

VR videos and a new online Phalaenopsis platform
In addition to working on improving their cultivation, Apollo Farm is also working on providing an online platform that will facilitate the Phalaenopsis trade. “We collaborate with a Taiwanese company to work on an online B2B platform, specifically for Phalaenopsis. This will result in an online shop where the suppliers can gather, and the buyer can see the full overview of available products without having to visit Vietnam. We hope to get this flower trading platform ready for use in 2022.”

And that is not where Apollo Farm’s projects end. “As traveling is challenging at the moment, it is more difficult to do the marketing of our products as we are not able to show them in person as much as we are used to. Therefore, we decided to develop a VR 360 degree video where everyone can walk through our facilities in Taiwan and Vietnam, and see our products. We are expecting this to be online in November and are hoping that this will be helpful for our customers.”

For more information:
Apollo Co., Ltd

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