By SERAH LAGDOM
MEET the lady behind the Papua New Guinea Floriculture Association and she will tell you, how her love and passion for flowers has made her quit a job as a professional to pursue a career in the floriculture industry.
“I grew up on an island, and as a small girl, my mother who loved flowers, would take me with her to visit her gardens in the mornings and afternoons and that is where my love for flowers began. I have grown to love flowers so much.
“I attended Papitalai High School where I completed grade 10, and went on to become a pre-school teacher, but the love for flowers remained and I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a floriculture trainer.
“In 2000, I received floriculture training in Fiji, when my husband was employed there.
Mary Elizabeth Saun, 65, from Bipi Island, Manus, is the only registered floriculture trainer in Papua New Guinea with the National Training Council and loves to share her passion with those that also have the love for flowers.
Saun founded the PNG Floriculture Association in 2009 and had the first flower show at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.
Unfortunately the industry is not getting the support it needs however, it is steadily moving forward.
Saun says the floriculture industry has the potential to change lifestyles and transform those engaged in the industry. It can boost the local and international floriculture market. However, there are challenges like:
- Shortage of flowers and farmers not having availability of flowers and plants;
- Farmers need to grow a variety of plants like orchids and Heliconia to enhance a continued supply of flowers;
- No proper infrastructure for storage like a cool rooms and transportation; and
- Lack of knowledge on handling and packaging of flowers which impacts on the quality.
The floriculture industry in PNG is like a sleeping giant that has a long way to go compared to other countries.
The industry can be developed like any other industry only if there are proper studies to help with academics, policy makers and locals engaged in the industry, Saun points out.
The association has its annual show with participants from various provinces and has plans to host a floriculture conference as a way to showcase the status of the industry to the wider audience.
Saun has taken women’s groups to floriculture events in PNG, Fiji and Australia. These included:
- Toowoomba Flower Festival in Australia (2006-7);
- Brisbane conference, Australia (2012);
- Fiji (2013);
- Gold Coast, Australia (2014); and
- Guam Cultural Festival of Arts (2016). This trip was funded by Department of Agriculture and Livestock (2016)
Ways to improve a blooming industry
Making the blooming industry grow and be like other countries will only be achieved with the support of the Government in funding workshops and trainings for smallholders to know and meet the demand by providing quality flowers and plants locally and eventually internationally.
The Government with the support of the responsible agencies should look for possible markets locally and internationally and look at ways in helping farmers to grow specific plants on a large scale to meet the demand both locally and internationally.
There should be a designated flower market in Port Moresby where flower farmers would sell their products. This would encourage people to buy local flowers and stop buying artificial flowers.
Provincial governments should look at initiatives to develop floriculture at provincial level.
By region, the floriculture market in Europe accounted for the highest revenue share in the global floriculture market in 2016. It is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of over 5 per cent between 2017 and 2026 owing to the increasing consumption of floriculture products in countries such as Switzerland, Netherlands and Denmark.