WHEN THE main wholesaler of orchids in Hawaii closed the business, Lloyd Pringle reviewed his options in terms of maintaining his business - continue to source from places afar such as Hawaii and the Philippines, or produce his own seedlings. With the ongoing foreign-exchange outlay a drain on resources, he went to the Scientific Research Council (SRC) with a proposal for propagating the flower locally.
In addition to foreign-exchange savings, the plan, if it proved feasible, would also guarantee a consistent supply of the prized flower - which would be free from external shocks. So armed with a good measure of enthusiasm and optimism, he ventured into dialogue with the SRC. In the end, a frustrated Pringle opted to return to importing the plants from Thailand, as well as the Philippines.
"Producing from seeds is a really technical thing and the people from Thailand can produce from almost nothing, which we can't do here. So I went to the SRC and they said they had the technology to produce it for me but I would have to fund it and then buy it back from them. I would have to fund the entire research and then buy back the plant from them. I didn't think it made sense. When I worked the figures out, it didn't make any sense to me," he told The Gleaner.
He said if he had done that, it would have cost a lot of money to set up everything plus "two years from getting that seed to getting that little plant and then another year before you get that first bloom ... overall, you're looking at four years".
So it is easier, he said, to bring the plants in at blooming size "and then grow them in here for six months, put them in the cut flowers house and in six months, they are blooming again".
'Producing from seeds is a really technical thing and the people from Thailand can produce from almost nothing, which we can't do here.' - Pringle