Malaysia employs innovation to capture big segment of floriculture - GulfToday

Malaysia employs innovation to capture big segment of floriculture


(L-R): Ibrahim, Aliaman, and Kassim at the launch on Wednesday evening in Dubai. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Transcontinental export of fresh flowers is daunting especially so that water is prohibited in air cargo. But, with a bit of innovation, Malaysia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) has devised a means to advance its performance in the world’s flourishing $50 billion (Dhs183,646,250,000.00) floriculture industry.

“We already received orders from France. The best route to Western Europe is still the UAE because this is the hub. We already have a demand in Abu Dhabi. Whatever happens here in Dubai, the trendsetter for luxury and luxury travel experience, other countries would follow. So, even now, we are targeting other GCC countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” MAFS-Floriculture Unit head Nizam Malik told Gulf Today.

Malik was specifically referring to the global export of the Malaysian version of the Mokara, a wild orchid related to the Vanda genus.

The global launch, via the UAE, took place on Wednesday evening, in the presence of Malaysian Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Mohammed Fadly Amri Aliaman, Orchidmas International LLC chief executive officer Shiz Kassim, and Gulfood delegates.

In his welcome remarks and speaking in behalf of MAFS Secretary General Datuk Lokman Hakim Bin Ali, the Business Development and Investment Division Undersecretary Khalid Bin Ibrahim, said the launch is a celebration of “a significant milestone in Malaysia’s floriculture industry.”

This is so, for as the global industry is at a “steady growth” particularly in the “dynamic sale of palms and ornamental plants and flowers, orchid stands out as a competitive product to leverage. From the period of 2016 to 2020, Malaysia was one of the leading exporters of flowers worldwide with total exports valued at over 2.4 billion Malaysian Ringgits (Dhs1,845,112,385.28). Specifically for 2021, Malaysia ranked ninth in floriculture exports with a value of RM 400 million (Dhs307,518,730.88). Orchids, including the coveted Mokara variety would captivate the world market. Taking advantage of the great demand, air freight is needed.”

“Taking advantage of this great demand, air freight is needed. For this reason, (MAFS), back in 2021 initiated the Mokara Export Project Market Segment in Dubai. Today’s event is a testimony to the ease Dubai provides with regards (the movement of goods and other products elsewhere),” Ibrahim also said.

According to the “Industry Profile of Orchids in Malaysia” forwarded to this reporter by the Malaysian Business Council which co-hosted the launch, “the orchid industry is a lucrative industry due to the crop being considered a high-valued commodity. Mokara, Vanda and Aranda species are the most popular orchids to be exported; with Mokara being considered one of the most suitable orchids to be exported as cut flowers due to its distinct colours and stem turgidity.

Moreover, “Malaysian Mokara is advantageous in terms of inflorescence arrangement as compared to the Mokara from other countries due to the hot and humid weather all year-round in Malaysia that is more suitable for the species to be cultivated producing beautiful flowers that are appreciated by enthusiasts.”

The industry profile recorded that of the RM420 million (Dhs322,892,469.61) worth of 40,032 tonnes of plants and flowers exported by Malaysia in 2022, 977.2 tonnes of these were orchids at RM9.34 million (Dhs7,165,332.74).

On the sideline interview, Malik said the Mokara Export Project arose from the Novel Coronavirus pandemic: “Why not try to have the Mokara lead the way.”

In particular, Malik was interested in penetrating the world through the UAE and specifically Dubai: “I studied the tourism policy for Dubai. It is targeting by 2050 40 million tourists with 150,000 rooms. That is a lot of opportunity for the Malaysian Mokara.”

“Another opportunity was the fact that with the $300 million (Dhs1,101,877,500.00) a year value of the floriculture exports to the UAE, there is no competition for orchids since most are for roses and tulips. So, here we are. We are setting a trend in the trendsetter of the world. There is a huge demand. We want to take a portion (of the floriculture export) to the UAE and to the world,” he added.

On the innovation to make the blooms long-lasting, Malik’s team discovered that a mixture of three grammes of the bonding agent sodium polyacrylate, with three milliliters of water produces the necessary water gel.

Targeted alone for the Dubai demand are 300 acres of land situated within the periphery of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malik added: “We cut the flowers every day, very early in the morning. These are flown the next day. They remain fresh do as long as 24 days (in the cold).”

There are two seven-hour flights between Malaysia and the UAE every day.


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