The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said a new orchid variety cultivated by the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute has been granted a patent in Japan and will be ready for export by the end of the year.
The institute said Japan is the main export market for Taiwan’s Oncidium orchids, with up to 27 million sprays exported to the country last year for NT$550 million (US$18 million) in revenue.
Tsai Tung-ming (蔡東明), an assistant researcher at the institute’s Floriculture Research Center, said that about 90 percent of the 30 million Oncidium sprays exported to Japan come from Taiwan.
“However, the majority of those flowers are a variety of Oncidium Lemon Heart hybrid. Since the hybrid was originally cultivated in Japan, Taiwan has to pay Japan royalties of about ￥50 million [US$500,000] each year to cultivate varieties of it,” he said.
Hopefully, the institute’s new flower, the Tainung No.4-Snow White, can replace some of the Lemon Heart exports to cut expenses, Tsai said.
The Tainung No.4-Snow White is expected to prove popular in Japan and may be able to replace about 30 percent of Oncidium exports to Japan.
In addition to saving on royalties, the new flower can only be grown in Taiwan and Japan, and other countries have to pay royalties to Taiwan to grow it.
The institute said several Japanese companies have already shown interest in the new variety. It hopes the flower can help Taiwan secure Oncidium exports to Japan threatened by new orchid plantations in Southeast Asia.