With the growing demand for more varieties and quality of horticultural products, the horticulture sector in China offers many opportunities, especially in the field of propagation materials and horticulture-supporting industries.
Horticulture is defined as the cultivation of flowers, plants, trees, fruits, vegetables, and supporting industries such as greenhouse equipment, substrate, biological control, cold rooms, etc.
With diverse climates and soils, China is characterized with abundance in its capacity to produce a diversity of high quality tropical, subtropical and temperate fruit, vegetables, and flowers for domestic consumption and export. For example, China’s total fruit plantation area is over 11 million hectares with large fruit producing regions where kiwifruit, apple, citrus, pear, and grapes are being grown.
Still, China is facing increasing shortage of all major means of production such as water, energy, land, and labor. It also requires improvement in its production methods, and it needs foreign intervention and support for the knowledge and technology required to harness its potentials.
Horticulture and the Chinese Government
Several provinces and cities in China are seeing the need to invest in its horticulture industry. However, to attract investors, large budgets and special facilities are required.
Yunnan province is striving to become the central flower region of Southeast Asia. The new airport in Kunming is one of the steps it took to increase investment opportunities. In fact, this paved way to the expansion in Yunnan.
Shandong holds the title as being the largest production region for fruit and vegetables in China. This can also provide opportunities for companies in all parts of the chain.
Because of its strong desire to develop its floriculture sector rapidly, the national Ministry of Agriculture is giving it support.
The local government is also giving Dalian city support in its desire to become an important flower hub in northeast China.
Several Dutch companies are already participating in the development of a large greenhouse project in the Tianjin province. It is also getting support from the local government.
Investment and Development Plans in China
The production per farm in China is very low. With rudimentary technology and limited knowledge on cultivation, farmers added very low contribution to the horticulture sector. Companies are making efforts, with the support of the local government, to develop in both scale and quality.
The current government priorities include increasing food supply, food safety, higher income level of farmers, and more product varieties. The provincial and local authorities are responsible for financial incentives. Mostly in combination with real estate development and ecological tourism, authorities are subsidizing modern greenhouse development.
Market Trends and Development in China
A big part of Chinese horticulture is conducted in a relatively primitive manner: small (0.5 ha per family), in soil and without climate control. Produce is grown in greenhouses, which is plastic tunnel greenhouses and is also called “solar greenhouse.”
China is facing an increasing domestic demand (population growth, increased purchasing power with rapidly growing middle class in large cities), more quality demand (food, more varieties), decreasing agricultural land (urbanization, desertification) and cultivation problems (drought, pest resistance).
Realizing that in order to increase production quantity and quality, the Chinese government is intent on taking radical steps to achieve its goals. The government is placing high priority on breeding, production technology, cultivation knowledge, biological pest control, management, logistics and marketing.
In order for China’s horticulture sector to gear up, it must integrate both technology and skills. The Chinese government is seeking solutions from foreign companies through maximizing knowledge transfer to Chinese companies. To achieve this, the Chinese Seed Law requires Chinese companies to have a majority shareholdership in company active in breeding and propagation.