Freesia, along with forsythia, is a typical spring flower. It announces the arrival of spring and is associated with a new start. That is why freesia bouquets are often presented at entrance and graduation ceremonies. In Japan, you can see many freesia bouquets in March because it is graduation season. Several Korean farms are exporting freesias to Japan just in time for the festivities.
Korean Freesias Enjoying Popularity in Japan
The Freesia Agriculture Association began with just three member farms in 2009. Initially cultivating ground chili pepper as the main crop, they decided to grow freesias during the winter off-season to stabilize their incomes. Their choice proved to be successful. In Korea, the graduation season is in February, and in Japan, it is in March, so there is no overlap in demand. Moreover, given the high demand for freesias in Japan, it is a perfect export for Korean farmers. Now, the association has ten participating farms growing freesias on a total territory of 2.5ha.
The President of the association, Kim Kyeong-tae, explains, “We supply our freesias to the domestic market in February and export them to Japan in March. Since all the produce is sold at appropriate prices by the end of the production season, it has been an effective way to raise farmers’ incomes.”
Exporting Korean Varieties: Gold Rich and Shiny Gold
It is also meaningful that the exported varieties are native Korean species: Gold Rich and Shiny Gold. They were developed by the National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Science which is affiliated with the state-run Rural Development Administration.
One of the biggest advantages of the two varieties is that their blooming time is two weeks faster than others. Moreover, they can grow at low temperatures, anywhere above 10℃. Shiny Gold has ring-shaped petals, upright leaves and stalks, and a strong fragrance. In addition to upright leaves and flower stalks, Gold Rich has the merit of producing a large number of flowers.
"Usually, farmers grow five or six varieties of freesias,” says Kim. “We grow two domestic varieties: Shiny Gold and Gold Rich. They are very popular among Japanese consumers because of their brilliant colors and strong fragrance. We improved the flower quality by offering customized training to farmers, and, as a result, were able to start exports.”
Accelerating Exports of Korean Freesias
Thanks to the efforts of farmers and related organizations, Korea exports freesias of the highest quality to overseas markets. Last year’s export volume was 100,000 flowers, and this year, the target is 200,000 flowers. It is anticipated that the export volume can reach 500,000 flowers in the future.
Kim says, "The freesia is a popular flower valued for its sweet fragrance. In the past, when economic conditions at home and abroad were more stable, Korea exported 200,000 freesias per year.” He adds, "The demand for freesias in Japan is so high that they are in short supply during the peak season. We hope that with our high quality freesias, we will be able to achieve the export goal of 200,000 flowers this year."
*Freesia Agriculture Association
·Tel +82-64-796-1462, +82-10-8120-1731
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