Local cut flowers and potted plants were mostly grown in backyards of individual farmers and small garden hobbyists during the post war era of the late 1940’s to the mid 1960’s. For several decades, people had to rely on small-scale production to meet the market demands. There was always a short supply of flowers and potted plants during Valentine’s Day, All Saints Day, Graduation Rites and Christmas season. The production methods and farm facilities among growers then seemed to be on an endless trial and error basis.
Then came Mr. Vicente Puyat with a private initiative in early 1983. He had several sprawling farms scattered across Baguio and Benguet areas with thousands of quality flowering potted plants in all assortment of colors, shapes and sizes. This was start of the King Louis Farm, and Mr. Puyat was known as the “King of potted plants and cut flowers” not only in Northern Luzon, but also across the country.
His project started with an experimental pilot area of 4,000 square meters concentrating on producing different varieties of roses, carnations, gerbera, gypsophilla in Asin, Baguio. It was planned to have a modern production area with pioneering greenhouses producing quality-potted plants and cut flower intended for the local market. These crops were successfully grown in the tropical highlands of Baguio, but the local folks of Baguio weren’t quite ready back then. King Louis Farm General Manager and President Mr. Efren Chatto recalls farmers were in search of an alternative business venture aside from vegetables, strawberries and seasonal souvenir merchandises.
King Louis – Manila Seedling Bank Foundation outlet
Through several years of experimenting, developing technology, skills training and acquiring new plant varieties, King Louis had finally grown to what it is today. The company has over 50 active contract farmer-growers scattered in various locations and operates on more than 6 locations in Baguio, La Trinidad areas like in Lamtang, Longlong, Alapang, Atok, Bugias, Tuba with a combined production areas of more than 12 hectares of specialized flower varieties. The farms and company has a labor force of about 100-180 workers, depending on the season.
King Louis Farm -Lamtang plantation
“We assist them (contract growers) in constructing their greenhouses and provide them counter funds by networking them to cooperatives and federations which engage in cut flower production. We even had some bank assistance for the construction of their greenhouses and even installation of sprinkling systems,” said the very enthusiastic Mr. Chatto.
These farms are located in various elevation from 1,200 meters above sea level in the La Trinidad Valley to 2,000 meters above sea level in Atok .The company had recently acquired a property in the province of Bukidnon in the island of Mindanao where the mild weather is conducive for growing crops that the firm will eventually supply for the southern Philippines market.
In the early 90s, with its growing operations and number of wholesale consumers, King Louis Farm tried to venture and opened its retail outlets within the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation compound in 1998, then other retail outlets within Metro Manila had sprung up. The company is very active in the floriculture and agriculture tourism events, since they were considered as pioneers in the “Panagbenga ” flower festival in Baguio every February and a regular participant in many gardening events and shows such as Agri-Aqua Network Incorporated, Kadayawan, Philippine Horticultural Society, Philippine Orchid Society, among others.
King Louis landscape booth in Horticulture 2009
The booth won 3rd prize in the landscape category
The company started also its luck in exporting cut flowers and cut foliage to Japan and Netherlands. “We had a hard time in meeting their standards of quality,” said Mr. Chatto. But they pursued because the country has distinct advantages to compete globally since the cost of production, low benchmark, competitive labor market plus the country is strategically located to those cut flower and foliage importing countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. With rising cost of fuel, labor and energy prices, it would be cheaper for these countries to import rather than to maintain an expensive production area. ” He explained.
The largest farm, which is devoted to rearing quality poinsettias, is simply exhilarating. Aside from the common red poinsettia, which most of us are familiar with, at King Louis there are three more exciting rare colors – white, pink and a combination of pink and red. They also have other poinsettia varieties with crinkled flower bracts that are considered as novelty items. The companies also have their own way of sorting and grading the poinsettias based on the size of the bracts. Poinsettias coded as B, C, and D command higher price. According to Mr. Chatto, this is done so that buyers are assured of uniform-sized plants. He stated the demand usually starts as early as October to December, the peak season for ornamental plants, when three to five large trucks go down to Manila everyday to deliver the plants.
King Louis Farm’s mission and vision is to be a leading supplier of quality flowers and potted plants in the local market. While the company motto is “The land is a God given gift, it is our responsibility to cultivate and preserve it.” Quality and strategy is the name of the game. “Quality flowers come from quality planting materials,” he emphasized.
liliums- blooming sized potted plants
Visiting other countries in order to source new planting materials which could be grown, adapted and sold in the local market is very challenging some planting materials are imported from Netherlands, United States, Malaysia, Thailand and China because our country lacks the facilities for storing bulbs and seeds for a long time to maintain their quality and viability. In order to assure uniform and quality flowers throughout the seasons, old planting materials are discarded. Selecting a strategic place for growing cut flower is also a major consideration. “We try to locate our farms in areas which have a good gravity to ensure a stable water supply and irrigation. Irrigation may not be a problem during the rainy season but during summer, and we tend to rely on deep well which consumes a lot of energy and effort,” he explained. King Louis Farm is concentrating its production for the local market; the farm is also engaged in producing Calla lily bulbs, particularly the colored varieties for export to Holland.
A University of San Carlos in Cebu graduate of economics, and at one time bank manager, Mr. Chatto believes that the business enterprise had come a long way from its humble beginnings. At present, they are not only catering to the cut flower, potted plants of Metro Manila and several points in Luzon, but are also supplying big flower shops in Bacolod, Cebu , Iloilo, Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Davao City, Samar and Tacloban City in Leyte For whatever business strategies and success stories , the soft spoken Mr. Chatto is willing to share is vast experiences to both hobbyists and to those who wanted to venture in this kind of business in the future.
Currently the company also accepts flower arrangements and landscape jobs
Mr. Efren Chatto –
President and General Manager of King Louis Flowers & Plants Inc. , email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Farm address: Km.3 Asin Road Baguio City, landline (074)4226735/(074) 4226734
MSBF Compound EDSA cor Quezon Ave.
Tel: (02) 929-4110,929-4107, 4332-012
Telefax: (02) 929-4114, 9294105