For those in communities that rely heavily on one source of revenue, which on Guam is Asian tourism, it essential that we develop markets to tap into this big source of revenue. This project will demonstrate whether it is possible to make money from a family-owned farm by growing tropical flowers, and then to add value to them in the form of leis or floral arrangements. The project can show women, in particular, that they can be financially self-sufficient by entering into this market.
Hotel lobbies, restaurants, banks, offices and conference rooms display beautiful floral arrangements using tropical flowers; few are native to Guam, with most imported from Hawaii and Asia, but most can be grown on Guam. A phone survey showed that an average cut stem of bird of paradise retails for $6, a cut stem of anthurium for $5 and ginger flower in a floral arrangement for $4.25.
Leis are a value-added product that can be a big source of seasonal revenue when sold to local customers. A lei is given at all special occasions and celebrations, including graduations, anniversaries, weddings and airport arrivals of friends, families and visiting dignitaries. Giving a lei is a symbol of friendship, love, best wishes, welcome and farewell.
Provide economic opportunities for tropical flower producers and encourage women, in particular, to enter into the cut flower and lei making market. The market is currently untapped by local producers.
Two lei making demonstration workshops were conducted, flyers were developed and passed out at the University of Guam student center and to friends at the work areas and posters were created for the hotels advertising the workshops. In addition, a restaurant/hotel survey was developed and implemented as was a workshop participant survey. A step-by-step lei making brochure was printed and distributed at both workshops and is available for use in future workshops.
The workshop survey found that:
• 22 of 24 participants attended to develop or further lei making skills as a hobby or recreational activity
• 6 of 24 were interested in making leis for money
• All want to attend another workshop to make a different type of lei
• 5 of 24 will continue to make leis for their personal celebration
About 10% of the major hotels were surveyed to obtain information on the potential market for leis and cut flowers. All of the hotels surveyed support the local florist industry. Among the survey’s findings:
• All 11 hotels surveyed purchase flowers from on-island florist shops
• Most commonly ordered flowers are orchids, heliconias, bird of paradise and anthuriums.
The brochure, developed by the technical advisor, was printed in a commercial shop. The easy step-by-step instructional brochure was provided to each workshop participant and will be used in future workshops.
In addition to the workshops and surveys, a collapsible greenhouse was installed on the project coordinator’s farm to propagate flowers and plants used for leis and decorations. A sprinkler irrigation system will be installed in the greenhouse to make it fully functional.
This project is expected to increase profits of the family farm by reducing costs associated with buying plant materials (flowers and foliage) from off-island vendors. The cost savings estimated for the first year, as the greenhouse plants are grown, is approximately $900, based on current market prices for plant materials.
Other agricultural producers, particularly part-timers and women, can realize increased income if they choose to enter the cut flower industry.
Another benefit from propagating high value flowers and foliage is reducing the risk of introducing pathogens and diseases into the island. One setback was the strict quarantine regulations on the import of live plant materials. Anthurium blights are on very high alert with the Guam Plant Quarantine Division. To import anthuriums requires sanitizing the plant before it enters Guam.
FARMER ADOPTION AND DIRECT IMPACT
Several farmers and plant nursery owners sell plants for landscaping only, and the project coordinator has yet to meet other producers who use methods similar to those adopted on her family farm. Following her model of installing a collapsible greenhouse dedicated to cut flower could potentially enhance their income by as much as $1,000 a year. The increases could be even greater for full-time farmers.
There appears to be little interest among producers to enter the cut flower industry potentially owing to 1) a lack of knowledge and skill in making leis, 2) a lack of capital needed to purchase seedlings for greenhouse operations and 3) lack of a greenhouse.
FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
After her experience, the project coordinator would change several things that she believes could have made her project more successful:
1. Increased reserved seating to cover last-minute cancellations for the workshop
2. Work more closely with the military to conduct workshops on Naval or Air Force installations
3. Work with hotels to teach lei making classes to tourist
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
A professional Lei Making Brochure, developed with the help of the technical advisor, shows a novice easy step-by-step instructions on how to make a ti leaf lei. Two lei making workshops were conducted for 24 participants. Of those who participated, there was a mix of local residents and Japanese tourists. Part of the agreement with the hotel was that a certain number of seats would be set aside for hotel guests. Holding the workshop at the hotel opened up a new source of income for the project coordinator’s business.