Huge demand keeps aster growers busy

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LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: Growers of premium flowers are almost done harvesting their yields as the nation prepares for this year’s observance of All Saints’ Day.

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In this town, known nationwide as the main supplier of aster, a major accent used in all kinds of flower arrangements, aster growers have begun harvesting following heavy demand from buyers as early as last month.

At least four barangay here are engaged in growing aster—Bayog, Maahas, San Antonio, and a small part of Anos supplying big and small flower shops in Metro Manila particularly in Dapitan and Quiapo, San Pablo, San Pedro in this province and other nearby provinces and cities including Tagaytay City.

About 30 to 40 hectares of farmlands here are devoted to aster propagation providing substantial earnings to some 300 people.

Florencia Lapis-Salmerano, a farm-owner, said the business this year has suffered a major setback as a result of the continuous heavy rains and extreme heat. “But despite this problem, aster farmers in Los Baños, have sustained the increasing requirements providing us with higher earnings,” Salmerano said, as she took note of its current farm gate price placed at P150 each kilo compared to the previous harvests in 2012 and early part of this year which ranged from only P70 to P75 each kilo.

Expressing optimism, Solmerano said Los Baños could provide the increasing daily demand for aster requirements even beyond the All Saints’ Day because farmers plant and harvest this flower once every three months.

This early, orders for the yuletide season have continued to pour and Los Baños farmers have a ready area planted for outright harvest, she added.

While other provinces such as Bicol and Benguet have started grow aster, florists and flower shops in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces in Southern and Central Luzon prefer the yields coming from this town, Salmerano said pointing out further, “asters supplied by growers in this municipality have remained relatively the best and much-sought after accent flowers even by known florists with shops in five-star hotels and restaurants.”

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