Lam Dong province plans to develop the Da Lat Flower brand to ensure sustainable development of the local flower industry and increase flower exports.

Pham Van An, director of the Lam Dong province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the flower cultivation area in the province had doubled from 1,731 ha in 2003 to 3,500 ha in 2010, leading to a surge in annual revenue of between 2 billion VND and 2.5 billion VND per ha per year.

In 2011, the province's flower productivity reached 1.2 billion branches and export turnover was worth 22 million USD. Da Lat contributed 50 percent of the total cultivation area and 70 percent of the annual output of the province.

"In recent years, flower growers in Da Lat have enhanced the application of advanced technology in farming, packaging and preservation, improving yield and quality as well as reducing post-harvest losses," he said.

"Most Da Lat flowers now are grown in greenhouses with automatic irrigation systems," he added.

There are more than 400 species of flowers and thousands of flower varieties in Da Lat.

However, the major concern of farmers and business is that Da Lat flowers still depend heavily on the domestic market, especially HCM City , and some central cities including Da Nang and Nha Trang.

"Apart from the local market, only a small amount of Da Lat flowers (around 110 million branches, about 11 percent of the province's yearly output) is exported to Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US, Thailand, the Netherlands, Singapore and Cambodia, " said Dr. Pham S, director of the Lam Dong Department of Science and Technology.

Da Lat's flower exports remain modest compared with its real potentials.

An of the agriculture department said Da Lat's limited flower exports were due to inconsistent quality that has not satisfied strict requirements of the world market.

Flower growers in the city still rely on imported varieties which have increased flower production costs. Worse still, local enterprises as well as local individual flower growers have not been provided adequate information on the international flower market.

They also lack experience in post-harvest preservation, packaging, packaging design, and marketing.

"All these limitations badly affect the competitiveness of Da Lat flowers in the world market, particularly with those produced from countries with developed flower industries," he added.

To solve the problems facing the Da Lat flower industry and improve Da Lat flowers' competitive ability in the world market, officials and experts have proposed several measures, all of which are expected to help increase the city's flower exports.

Nguyen Minh Tam, deputy director of the Lam Dong Department of Science and Technology, said, that although Da Lat flowers were well-known in both domestic and overseas markets, building the Da Lat Flower brand into a strong brand name was still a major job for local authorities and flower growers.

On December 30 last year, the Department of Intellectual Property under the Ministry of Science and Technology granted the certificate "Hoa Da Lat" (Da Lat Flowers) to Lam Dong People's Committee.

The ‘Hoa Da Lat' brand, which has become a common asset among the community of Da Lat producers and traders, is managed by Da Lat People's Committee.

However, Tran Huy Duong, chairman of the Da Lat Flower Association, said that brands of local flower growers and traders in Da Lat should also be developed so that flowers in Da Lat could gain international recognition.

"The Hoa Da Lat brand, the first of its kind in Vietnam , also needs to be registered with an international intellectual property organisation to protect it from being stolen," Duong said.

An of the agriculture department said modern technology should be used in flower cultivation and post-harvest preservation activities such as mesh or green houses, automatic irrigation systems.

Pham Ngoc Trung, deputy director of Lam Dong's Agriculture Extension Centre, recommended setting up a commodity circulation channel that willconnect flowers producers with cooperatives, sales agents and wholesale markets.

The Government and authorities of Lam Dong should have policies to help flower growers learn about flower varieties, prices and markets in the world so they can have proper cultivation plans to meet market demands, according to a representative of the Da Lat People's Committee./.