China's lockdowns and war in Ukraine hurt Thai orchid industry

Thailand's orchid growers, already weary after two years of being battered by the pandemic, are bracing for fresh blows to their livelihood as the war in Ukraine and changing weather patterns further cloud their futures.

Once considered a popular pastime among the elite in Thailand, orchid growing has developed into a multi-million dollar industry, and the kingdom is the world's biggest producer and exporter of cut orchids. But the pandemic has seen one in five farms shut down recently, according to the Thai Orchid Exporter Association.

"No one has the heart to buy flowers, and transportation is very complicated," said Somchai Lerdrungwitayachai as he stares in despair at the sea of purple at his orchid farm west of Bangkok.

He grows Dendrobium Sonia orchids -- a hybrid variety with delicate white and purple petals. Popular in Japan, China, and the United States, they are used for anything from religious ceremonies to college graduations.

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