Flower farms see Lunar New Year sales blighted by virus

HONG KONG (AP) — The Lunar New Year holiday is usually a busy time for Hong Kong flower farms, which prepare to sell plum blossoms, orchids and daffodils at flower markets during the festive season. . But the pandemic and restrictions on these festive markets this year have taken their toll on many farms, which fear they may be left with an oversupply of flowers.

Traditionally, Lunar New Year fairs – known as “flower markets” in Cantonese – take place before the holidays, with thousands of florists and festive produce vendors selling their wares to the public. This year, the Hong Kong government will put restrictions on these markets, which can only operate halfway and with reduced opening hours.

The policy has raised concerns among farm owners like Yeung Siu-lung, who runs one of Hong Kong’s largest orchid farms. To prepare for the festive season, he had grown more than 30,000 pots of orchids in 10 greenhouses in rural Hong Kong’s New Territories.

Yeung, who originally planned to have 16 stalls at flower markets, is now considering alternative arrangements to sell his supply of orchids, including selling them online or encouraging buyers to visit farms directly.

The Lunar New Year is traditionally a boost for some businesses in Hong Kong, especially retail businesses. There is usually a big seasonal sale of festive items such as holiday snacks, gifts and home decorations, which often include flowers.

According to business analyst Francis Lun, flower farms like Yeung typically make around 50% of their profits from the Lunar New Year season alone.

Pinky Chan is one of Yeung’s customers who drove an hour to his farm to buy orchids. Amid the ongoing pandemic, Chan still believed it was important to create a festive atmosphere during tough times.

“We Chinese feel happier if our homes are filled with red and green during Lunar New Year,” Chan said. “Because of the pandemic, we are not all very happy, we cannot meet our families. So I hope buying a flowerpot for my parents can make them a little happier.

Terisa K. Carn