Edible carnations: Malaysia targets high-end Dubai market with 'blooming' business

Carnations become cash crop for Malaysian farmers

21 Apr 2024 01:01pm
Carnations become cash crop for Malaysian farmers. - Photo by Bernama
Carnations become cash crop for Malaysian farmers. - Photo by Bernama

PUTRAJAYA - Carnation flowers, also known as dianthus caryophyllus, are not just beautiful decorations but could also provide a substantial income to cultivators.

These flowers are poised to enter the Dubai market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an ingredient for preparing luxurious dishes in fine-dining restaurants and luxury hotels.

Department of Agriculture (DOA) Floriculture Industry Unit head Mohamad Nizam Malik said the department aimed to export more than 10,000 boxes of carnation flowers by the end of this year.

"We are targeting 10,000 boxes, each weighing 10 grammes and containing approximately 45 blooms per week, which can provide significant returns to entrepreneurs,” he said.

For this, he said the DOA had identified an area spanning 2.4 hectares in Bukit Changgang, Banting, Selangor, for commercial cultivation of carnations or the Edible Flower Export Farm (LEEF).

"We will focus on the farm in Bukit Changgang as a pilot project to serve as a one-stop centre for the entire process, starting from planting, harvesting, storing, and packaging before export.

"The main reason we chose an area close to the airport is to ensure the flowers remain fresh throughout the process until delivery abroad,” he said, adding that each box of carnation flowers could fetch up to RM80 compared to its local market value of around RM10.

Mohamad Nizam explained that the cost of exporting carnations is lower than that of orchids, which they exported previously.

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"Before this, we exported orchids in the form of premium gift boxes, which incurred relatively high costs, but not for carnations, which also offer significant returns and are a high-value commodity.

"Unlike orchids, carnations do not require special pots and water gel beads to keep them fresh. Instead, the packaging for carnations will be designed to keep them fresh and satisfy buyers,” he said.

The cost of exporting carnations is lower than orchids. - Photo by Bernama
The cost of exporting carnations is lower than orchids. - Photo by Bernama

Mohamad Nizam pointed out that carnations, which are usually used as decorations in homes or at special events, can also be served with desserts such as ice cream and steaks.

"Previously, we only heard of edible gold in dishes, but we believe carnations will also receive the same response because of their fresh taste, especially for desserts.

"The flowers will add value to those dishes and subsequently be sold at higher prices,” he said.

At present, a carnation planting project is underway at a farm in Kajang. It houses four greenhouses operated by Foliage Microgreens to meet the local market demand.

Mohamad Nizam said the DOA is also eyeing opportunities for the Singapore market following previous demand and has begun planting these flowers in Parit Sulong, Batu Pahat, Johor.

"Parit Sulong Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad has expressed her intention to make it one of the women’s activities in her constituency, so we are targeting the market in the neighbouring country (Singapore).

"I am confident this will be a great opportunity to generate income,” he said.

Recently, Bernama journalists were taken to visit the 0.1-hectare carnation farm owned by Foliage Microgreens, managed by Fairuz Effindi, 39, Faisal Esa, 36, and Abdul Harith Abdul Halim, 37.

Starting with just one greenhouse and a cost of about RM30,000 in 2018, now three more greenhouses have been built to cultivate these flowers.

"The DOA has provided assistance in terms of advice regarding flower care and opportunities to market this product, and we plan to further advance in this field,” said Fairuz, adding that carnations have high demand from restaurants and hotels, especially around the Klang Valley. - BERNAMA