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Colombia: Promotion of Zantedeschia and strengthening of Alstroemeria

General information
Project location: Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia
Consortium: Könst Holding BV, Flores la Serena Ltda, Flores la Conchita Ltda
Project Budget: Euro 1.4 million
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSOM
Project period: January 2007 - December 2008

Könst Holding from the Netherlands, its daughter company Flores la Serena from Colombia and its Colombian agent Flores la Conchita have been granted PSOM funding for the following innovative project. Colombia represents the largest market for Könst’s Alstroemeria young plants, which are supplied to growers who in turn primarily target the USA market.

The opportunity for the investment project that is proposed to PSOM arises from the comparative advantages that Colombia offers in terms of:

  • growing conditions (light, temperature) that, near the equator at an altitude of 2600 m, are favourable year round,
  • low cost of production, as labour and low energy needs are much less than in the Netherlands.
  • closeness to the world’s largest flower consumer country, the USA, which means that transport costs are comparatively low.

In fact, these are the same conditions that have allowed Colombia to become the second largest flower exporter in the world. For Könst, to stay ahead of competitors who are also supplying to this grower market from abroad, it is important to become more closely involved in Colombia. Also, the cost of selection and propagation in the Netherlands of certain is becoming too expensive in case of certain Alstroemeria varieties. Moreover, Könst recently acquired new lines of Zantedeschia, which are not grown yet on a commercial scale in Colombia, but for which there appears to be a good scope for cut flower exports to the USA and, during the European off-season, to the EU as well.

On the strength of its Alstroemeria breeding programme in the Netherlands, Könst (through Flores la Serena) wants to start up the selection of Alstroemeria in Colombia to assist the introduction of new varieties that are better adapted to local growing circumstances and to propagate varieties that are too expensive to multiply in the Netherlands. Through Flores la Serena, Könst furthermore plans to initiate the breeding, selection and propagation of its new line of Zantedeschia varieties in Colombia. In joint venture with Flores la Conchita, Könst will set up a demonstration farm for the cut flower production of new Alstroemeria and Zantedeschia varieties, as a way of supporting the market introduction of these new varieties by producing the first marketable quantities, getting immediate feedback from the market, and convincing local growers of the benefits of new varieties in combination with improved technology.

The project will include hardware in order to set up:

  • a small tissue culture laboratory for in-vitro multiplication of new varieties;
  • insect-free greenhouses for (1) selection and (traditional) propagation of Alstroemeria, (2) breeding and selection of Zantedeschia, (3) raising of tissue plants to young plants, for cut flower and pot plant growers, and (4) demonstration of improved cultivation and new variety cut flowers;
  • pack house, cold store, office, canteen and sanitary facilities.

In total 52 local staff will be employed and trained in all aspects of breeding, selection, propagation and cultivation of flowers. The technology is standard and can be adopted in Colombia, although the sanitary protocols require a lot of discipline.

The spin-off of this project in the first two years after completion comprises:

  • follow-on investment by Könst through Flores la Serena in expansion of the tissue lab and doubling of greenhouses for propagation purposes;
  • follow-on investment by Könst and Flores la Conchita, through their joint venture, for the up-scaling of cut flower production from 2.5 ha to 9 ha, requiring greenhouses, cold stores, equipment, pack house and additional facilities;
  • direct employment for 88 persons additionally at Flores la Serena and the joint venture.
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