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China: Breeding, selection and testing of new rose varieties for the Chinese market

General information
Project location: Kunming, Yunnan province, China
Consortium: De Ruiter Holding BV, Beijing Oriental Technologies Ltd,
Project Budget: Euro 1.5 million
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSOM
Project period: August 2008 - June 2011

De Ruiter Holding is leading a group of companies involved in, amongst others, breeding and introduction of new rose varieties on the world markets. Since 2000, it has been active in China with the sales and marketing of rose cuttings and young plants from the Netherlands. It does this with the support of its Chinese agent, Beijing Oriental Technologies Ltd.. Both De Ruiter and Beijing Oriental Technologies see market potential in introducing new rose varieties adapted to local growing conditions and to the preferences of the Chinese market.

Existing rose varieties are sensitive to the climate conditions under which they grow. The same variety would, for example, yield a different size bloom and different colour dependant on which continent it is grown. The same sensitivity is shown in breeding non-indigenous varieties: existing European rose varieties are very difficult to cross-pollinate in China, for that matter, as the pollen in most cases will not germinate. This has to do with the high levels of ultraviolet radiation (pollen will easily burn) and low humidity (pollen will easily dry out). Hence, in order to successfully introduce a commercially strong variety in China, breeding is to take place locally using mainly indigenous varieties. Despite the fact that breeders in China have limited means of protecting their Intellectual Property Right (IPR), based on the existing experience with (illegal) growers and the Kunming International Flower Auction Trading Center (KIFA) in Yunnan, both De Ruiter and Beijing Oriental Technologies are willing to invest in a pilot on breeding, selection and testing of new rose varieties in China.

The project partners will establish a joint venture under which project activities will resort. The hardware investments will include a greenhouse and related facilities. Production areas to be distinguished include sections for breeding, selection, testing and growing of the varieties. The partners will start breeding activities with mother plants from China, Ecuador and Kenya (the latter two resistant to high levels of UV, useful in China). Since the development and commercial introduction will take almost 3 years, parallel to the breeding, selection and testing activities the partners will introduce new European varieties to the Chinese market – providing the commercial basis for the initial project period. As the selection, testing and growing areas gradually will be planted with new developed varieties, stock of European varieties will be phased out. New varieties will be commercially tested via KIFA. Successfully introduced varieties will be registered under the Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR), while growers will be encouraged to propagate and grow the new rose plants under tripartite agreement with the joint venture and KIFA.

Technical assistance will include training of staff in breeding, selection, testing and growing of rose plants. In addition, trainings will include quality management (ISO 9001:2000), MPS (Milieu Project Sierteelt)-A and FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International) compliance. A demonstration event for growers will be organised to demonstrate the new varieties and inform on proper propagation and growing techniques. De Ruiter will provide to this project breeding, selection and testing expertise, as well as managerial expertise. Beijing Oriental Technologies will bring in technical knowledge on rose growing, sales and marketing expertise, and a sales network.

The project will result in:

  • the establishment of a Joint Venture between De Ruiter Holding BV and Beijing Oriental Technologies Ltd for breeding, selection, testing and growing new rose varieties for the Chinese market;
  • the construction of a greenhouse encompassing a breeding, selection, testing and growing section, cold storage and office facilities, employing 60 staff;
  • training of 60 staff in issues related to breeding, selection, testing and growing, and in compliance with ISO 9001:2000 (quality management in production and sales) MPS-A and FLO; acquiring of both the ISO and FLO certificates;
  • a cumulative production of 100,000 seeds of new varieties, together with an official PBR application of at least 4 new varieties in China;
  • a bankable business plan for securing finance for follow-up investments.

Upon successful conclusion of the project period, the partners will make follow-up investments in further expansion of the existing breeding facilities in other regions (with other climates) in China. Additional direct employment during this period is estimated to be 70 staff.