Philippines: "What ails our orchid industry?"

When we came back home in the late 80s, I went into orchid raising to tide us over while my medical practice was still starting. In just 2,000 square meters, I was able to supply cut orchids to flower shops in Manila. This provided for a comfortable life at that time.

It was basically all importations from Thailand that moved the industry after the Hawaiian orchids became too expensive. Very few were raising and selling Philippine orchids, yet we have 1,100 orchid species, including 900 that are endemic (only found in the Philippines). And some are still waiting to be discovered.

Ironically, it was the iconic Waling-waling that gave rise to the orchid industries of Hawaii and Thailand, providing them with the genetic material of our majestic Vanda sanderiana (scientific name of Waling-waling). From it, they developed thousands of hybrids that are highly desired all over the world.

The same goes for our moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), many of which are the ancestors of the classic white-and-pink orchid flowers cascading gracefully, adorning shops, offices, and restaurants almost everywhere in the world. From these Philippine species, Taiwan now has a multi-million dollar industry exporting orchids all over the world, earning it US$207.4 million in 2021. Yet Taiwan only has 400 native orchids, compared to the Philippines.

Read more at mb.com.ph

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