ISLAND  ROSE  CONQUERS  THE  WORLD
 

MANILA, October 28, 2005
 (STAR) By Rocel C. Felix - Growing European roses under tropical conditions has made Philippine Cut Flower Corp. (PCFC) the country’s first successful large-scale producer of roses for export by using greenhouse technology in the 1980s.

This time again, the company is trailblazing in the industry, pumping in P20 million to build the country’s first fully operational computerized glasshouse. In the next five years, PCFC will be replacing its existing greenhouses and installing new seven computerized glasshouses.

"Technology has always helped us push our vision of penetrating the export market in a really big way. With a computerized glasshouse, there was a marked increase of about 20 percent in our production, so once we get to fully computerize and upgrade our other greenhouses, we expect to really earn from both the domestic and international markets," said an optimistic Arnold Andaya, PCFC vice president for operations.

At the five-hectare farm in Barangay Buck Estate in Alfonso, Cavite, PCFC grows a wide range of varieties and colors of internationally-known roses such as Osiana, Texas, Noblesse, Grand Gala, Lambada, Red Giant, Salsa, Vivaldi, Christine, Tineke, Gloria, and Red France.

These products, sold under the brand name Island Rose, are currently distributed to more than 300 institutional clients in the Philippines, but by next year, the company expects to aggressively pursue its export efforts.

"While we already pioneered the export of roses in the 1980s, we had to stop in the early 1990s however, because we couldn’t supply our buyers’ volume requirements. What we did in the meantime was to focus on building our local customers. With computerization, we are already in the process of building excess capacity to address the export market," said Andaya, adding that PCFC is already in talks with prospective buyers in Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Andaya stressed that the seven state-of-the-art greenhouses at the farm in Cavite can produce more than three million stems annually. With the recent installation of a cutting-edge computer-controlled climate system that automatically adjusts weather, water and fertilizer requirements, production can be increased by a minimum of 800,000 stems which will be shipped to buyers abroad.

He explained that the use of greenhouses in local rose farming was a distinction earned by PCFC and an innovation from the typical open-filed farms. The greenhouses also have an automatic shading system and uses glass as its primary building component.

"There are so many advantages to using greenhouse technology. The controlled temperature and humidity eliminates pests and diseases, there is better shelf life, sizes can vary depending on buyers‚ demand and the varieties that we grow can achieve their maximum potential in terms of bud size, color and other physical attributes," noted Andaya.

Aside from ensuring the quality of its roses, PCFC is also implementing an aggressive marketing campaign to get a bigger slice of the growing market for cutflowers such as roses.

The company has set up islandrose.net, its official e-commerce site which enables customers to order and send flowers anytime they choose. The sophisticated e-commerce engine has in fact, already earned several recognitions.

In 2003, www.islandrose.net <http://www.islandrose.net/> was named as a "best practice model" representing the Philippines for small and medium enterprises by the International Trade Center, an agency of the World Trade Organization. Recently, Alexa.com, a leading world authority in web information services, ranked www.islandrose.com.ph <http://www.islandrose.com.ph/> as one of the Top 15 Philippine web sites and the most visited e-commerce retail site in the country.

"Through the Internet, we can deliver anywhere between 100 to more than 1,000 dozen a day depending on the occasion. We are able to receive orders even from abroad, especially Filipinos that want to send flowers to their loved ones in the Philippines, we can deliver even as far as Mindanao because of our good network and tie up with other internet companies that do our deliveries. This makes us one of the most experienced internet service providers in any industry," said Andaya.

As part of its export bid, PCFC is also planning to collaborate with various government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry to help facilitate the opening up of new markets.

"Sectors like us with good potential to make it big in the export scene need the support of the government. In Holland for instance, its government opened an office in Japan to facilitate trade for its cutflower producers. Back in Holland, Japanese cutflower exports were commissioned by the government to assist local growers in coming up with varieties and specifications that would meet the requirements of Japanese buyers. We need to do that here in the Philippines," stressed Andaya.

Of course, the best marketing scheme is a good product.

"We are very careful about the quality of our roses. We take all the necessary steps to ensure that flowers delivered to customers are the best. We have a very good postharvest handling system because we always have to constantly protect our reputation. And as we expand, we will even improve our operations, especially when we go full blast in exporting," said Andaya.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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