Floriculture industry blooms
The local floriculture industry is continuing to grow as demand for flowers rises, local sellers day.
A Fugalei Market flower vendor, Etevise Luaao, told the Samoa Observer that she has been in the business for five years – after abandoning food sales – and she has no regrets as the switch has worked out well for her and her family.
She believes the trade in flowers will continue to grow, due to the increasing demand brought on by locals and tourists who want to buy and enjoy flowers.
Ms Luaao, who does not grow flowers herself but sources them from a supplier in Aleisa, said flower bouquets and floral arrangements have now become part of church services, weddings as well as overall decor appealing to both locals and foreign visitors.
Orders for flowers are also received from clients abroad, who order them for weddings and other events.
“Flowers grown in Samoa are different because they have a unique beauty,” she added, while emphasising that the plants should be showcased regionally.
A Samoa Farmers Association executive member, who is also a florist but did not want to be identified, echoed similar sentiments in an interview with this newspaper.
For her, Fiji’s Floriculture Project that grew orchids and anthuriums in the early 2000s, comes to mind. It contributed to village women taking up orchid growing and became a success story for Fijian florists.
The project was started by Fijian florist Aileen Burness, according to the Samoan florist, and became successful because it had a community approach.
“She (Aileen Burness) gave people in different areas 50 orchids for free, and then they grow orchids in their own backyards to be sold back to her for money,” she said.
The project opened up income generation opportunities for the participating village women, who grew the flowers in their backyard.
Recently there have been about 200-400 orders in a week sales, added the Samoan florist, for the Teuila or ginger flower. The sellers would go straight to the market with their blooms to sell and get money directly.
And while the local market is small, the overseas market for flowers is also on the increase.
For years florists in Samoa would import carnations and orchids from overseas to cater for weddings and other decorations.
But now, there is a new leading flower in the wedding business, the white ginger and a white variant of the Hawaiian protea.
While the future for Samoan floriculture may face constraints and lack awareness, florists like Ms Luaao appears content selling to meet the country’s simple niche market of everyday beauty.