More than 20 hectares of land reserved for orchid nurseries in first such move

Channel NewsAsia 14 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: More than 20 hectares of land have been set aside for orchid nurseries in the first such move here, highlighting the importance of the national flower to Singapore.

The reserved land parcels will be located in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah, with the first tranche available for tender from June this year, the National Parks Board (NParks) said in a media release on Wednesday (Mar 14).

The locations of the orchid land parcels will be in close proximity to sites set aside for landscape nurseries, in order to allow operators to "aggregate and share resources", said NParks.

"This is the first time that land has been allocated for orchid nurseries by NParks, demonstrating the importance of orchids to Singapore’s heritage," it said in the release.

The land parcels will be available in two tenancy options.

One-hectare plots will be available under a tenancy model with renewal every three years, and two-hectare plots will be available under a model with renewal every 10 years.

The first four orchid nursery plots will be released for tender this year in two tranches, with the first tranche of two-hectare plots available for sale from June.

More tranches will be tendered in "2019 and beyond", NParks added.

Plots will come with some basic infrastructure "built up to the front gate", said the agency, adding that this will enable nurseries to quickly move in and will help them defray upfront capital investments.

It also explained that three-year renewal tenures are beneficial to nurseries who prefer paying monthly rental fees rather than an upfront land premium, while the 10-year renewal tenures require an upfront land premium payment and are intended to benefit nurseries that "intend to invest substantially in their operations".

Bidders must be qualified under the Nursery Accreditation Scheme prior to tender, said NParks.

Proposals will be evaluated on price and quality criteria, including the bidder's track record, proposed physical site layout and business concept and the use of technology to improve productivity and encourage innovation.

About 20 orchid nurseries are currently operating in Singapore and occupy land in locations including Seletar, Sungei Tengah and Lim Chu Kang.

NParks took over management of orchid nurseries from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority at the beginning of the year, and Wednesday's announcement is part of the agency's plans to develop land for orchid nurseries.

The agency will also work with orchid nurseries on the orchid industry masterplan to "sustain, grow and transform the sector", it said.

Source: CNA/nc

More than 20 hectares set aside for orchid nurseries
Today Online 14 Mar 18;

Area currently occupied by 21 orchid growers spans over 40 hectares; first tender will be called in June

SINGAPORE — More than 20 hectares of land in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah have been set aside for orchid growers and the National Parks Board (NParks) will tender the first plots of land in June.

This is six months ahead of schedule, and in response to feedback from the industry, said NParks in a media statement on Wednesday (March 14). But the area set aside is about half of more than 40 hectares currently occupied by 21 orchid growers in Seletar, Sungei Tengah and Lim Chu Kang.

The first batch of plots up for tender will be two-hectare plots with 10-year leases that are renewable for another 10 years.

In future, there will be plots that are one hectare in size, with three-year tenures that are renewable every three years. This will cater to the needs of different nurseries, said NParks, which held a briefing for orchid farmers on Wednesday morning.

Farmers who secure the longer lease will have to make an upfront payment of a land premium, and will likely be those that plan to invest substantially in their operations.

Farmers on the shorter leases will pay monthly rental fees instead of an upfront land premium.

Bidders will be assessed on their track records, business concepts and innovation to ensure the tender is awarded “not only to the highest bidder”, said NParks, which took over the management of orchid nurseries from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) at the start of this year. It now manages all plant nurseries.

NParks said the land parcels will come with some basic infrastructure built up to the front gate. This will enable the nurseries to move in more quickly and help defray upfront capital investments.

The land parcels will be close to plots aside for landscape nurseries and this could allow the businesses to share resources, it said.

Although orchids are a distinct part of Singapore’s heritage – the Vanda Miss Joaquim hybrid was named the national flower in 1981 – the industry has lost some of its lustre in recent decades.

In January, TODAY reported on the challenges faced by local producers. Aside from high labour costs and shorter land leases, they face fierce competition from places like Thailand and Taiwan, which are able to produce the flowers more cheaply.

In 2016, Singapore slipped a notch to become the world’s fourth-largest orchid exporter (in terms of value of exports) after being overtaken by Taiwan. The Netherlands and Thailand took the top two spots.

Local orchid production fell to a 10-year low in 2016, according to the AVA’s statistics. Between 2007 and 2016, orchid production fell starkly by 40 per cent — from 10 million to six million stalks. But this could be partly due to some farmers shifting their business from stalk orchids towards mature, potted orchids.

NParks said it would continue to engage orchid nurseries to formulate an industry masterplan.

With orchid nurseries now part of the landscape sector, growers are eligible for the government’s Landscape Productivity Grant that will co-fund investments in machinery and technology by up to S$300,000, it said.

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