Flower companies and the city government in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, have introduced measures to cope with challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic after the operation of major flower markets was suspended in the lead up to Spring Festival.
Flowers are on display at the Floating Flower Market in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province on Jan 29, 2019. [File photo/Xinhua]
"We didn't expect that the coronavirus pandemic would impact flower sales for such a long time," said Ye Ruguang, chairman of Shenzhen Lyubaoxuan Gardening.
The company's production base in Guangzhou's Conghua district had to cut the output of flowers for this year's Spring Festival by 20 percent, Ye said.
"We had to reduce production capacity and increase online sales," he said.
Traditionally, local flower companies exhibit and sell their latest varieties of flowers at major flower markets organized by the local government before the Spring Festival holiday, which will begin on Feb 11 this year.
But Guangzhou's city government announced recently that it was suspending the operation of the traditional flower markets to help prevent and control the pandemic.
"Visiting flower markets and buying flowers to bring back home is a traditional Spring Festival celebration for people in Guangdong," Ye said.
To offset the loss, Ye said he had to start selling flowers online in November, three months earlier than usual.
He said online sales had increased significantly in recent months and the processing of online orders will be finished before Spring Festival.
"We will help connect flower growers and vendors to various e-commerce platforms to facilitate online sales," said Ding Li, deputy director of the Guangzhou administration for market regulation.
In addition to online sales, the local government has allocated 153 smaller markets for flower vendors during the upcoming holiday, with more to be added, Ding said.
Electronic maps are being developed to guide consumers to the markets, he said.
Guangzhou, which accounts for 30 percent of Guangdong's flower growing area, has become one of the country's major production bases for foliage plants and potted flowers, with most products exported to Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia, said Liao Chongbin, deputy director of the local agriculture and rural affairs authority.
The flower industry in Guangzhou generated output of 5.7 billion yuan ($882 million) last year, up 17.7 percent year-on-year, he said.
"Following the coronavirus pandemic, local people are also being encouraged to buy flowers at 430 major farms, which include most flower varieties favored to celebrate Spring Festival," Liao said.