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Budding Ornamental Horticulture Industry takes off with Imported Thai Orchids

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA–04 SEPTEMBER 2023: The launching of the FAMA-OMONEA Cut-flower and Ornamental project at Faatoia last Thursday signified the growing interest of growers who witnessed the showcase of a variety of orchids shipped from Thailand to build and develop the ornamental pathway for local growers.

The FAMA and OMONEA project was launched by the Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt who himself is a grower or ornamental plants and believes the initiative is a crucial intervention in Samoa.

“The Ornamental horticulture is very popular in Samoa and it is a blooming industry with so much potential and you can witness this in churches, hotels and even at the local Fugalei market, we see more and more beautiful floral boutiques and leis (ula) sewn with local orchids being sold for special ceremonies, public and private events,” he said.

He noted that flowers in Samoa symbolizes happiness, peace, elegance and beauty and a gift of nature that act as a natural medicine for reducing stress and improve mental health and wellness.

“It is a source of happiness, hope and financial empowerment for families,” said Laauli.

orchid laauli
orchid laauli

The Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt speaking at project launch last Thursday.

The Government through the Ministry supports the initiative for the importation of exotic ornamentals of Orchids Anthuriums and Desert Roses to improve the availability and access to exotic ornaments to increase the range and quantity of plants that are available for women to propagate, market and generate income.

“Our Government has already established the new Samoa Export Authority and we welcome this important initiative by PHAMA PLUS and FAMA-OMONEA to export in the future,” he said.

5,000 plants to build the local cut-flower industry
The FAMA-OMONEA Project Manager, Sili Malaeolela Valeri Tuia said they are excited about the project.

“We are grateful to have access to about 5,000 plants to build the ornamental and cut-flower industry for Samoa, however, there is still a need for more planting materials to quickly increase the required volume and capacity,” she said.

3 orchids
3 orchids

Some of the imported beauties adding to the local varieties targeting the export market.

The Minister took note of FAMA-OMONEA’s need for more planting material that needs to be imported in order to make a major impact in the Cut-flower industry and help facilitate the fast multiplication efforts for the future export markets.

From humble beginnings to international market
The Project’s Deputy Manager Tapulolo’u Tua’ilemafua said the organisation started with only 40 members but has since grown to 60 within the four months of its establishment indicates a strong interest by the community to this income earning opportunity.

“We usually sell our ornamentals in local markets but whenever we have exotic materials, most clients would always go crazy to buy them. This project has generated a lot of interest, and more women have requested to join our group,” said Tua’ilemafua.

The group intends to start the export of cut-flowers to American Samoa by the end of the year, and is looking forward to further support to build local stock to ensure consistency of supply to the export markets.

One of the suggestions given to the project is to outsource planting to district groups through the $1 Million District Development Program to help maintain its continuity.

Australia & New Zealand support
The project was funded jointly by the Australia and New Zealand Governments through their offices in Apia.

Australia’s High Commissioner, Emily Luck congratulated the project and spoke on behalf of the donor countries.

“Samoa and Australia have a longstanding partnership, underpinned by our share belief in the prosperity of our people. It is in this spirit that we jointly invest in projects that focus on the social and economic empowerment of Samoa communities,” said Luck.

orchid emily
orchid emily

Australia’s High Commissioner, Emily Luck speaking on behalf of the donor countries Australia & New Zealand at the project launch.

The project also recognises the critical role that civil society plays in the fostering sustainable and thriving communities hence the support for women growers and FAMA – OMONEA members in their vision to develop a sustainable ornamental sector.

“Our support continues to contribute and enhance economic growth and thriving rural livelihoods for Pacific people with the emphasis on gender equality, inclusion and climate sustainability,” she said.