At big Cuenca orchid show, local growers and international experts say that the government should improve promotional efforts

Nov 14, 2014

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Ecuagenera owner and manager Pepe Portilla

One of the world’s largest orchid growers says Ecuador needs to do a better job promoting the industry and a Japanese orchid expert agrees.

“All we lack is the government support to make Ecuador the top destination for orchids,” says José “Pepe” Portilla, manager Ecuagenera, a massive orchid growing operation between Cuenca and Gualaceo. By some accounts, Ecuagenera grows the largest number of orchid varieties in the world. “We need help with promotion to move to the next level,” he adds.

Harry Nagata, president of the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference and Director of the Tokyo Dome Orchid Show, agrees with Portilla. “You have the best climate and growing conditions in the world for orchids in this area,” he says. “The problem is that people don’t know about it.”

Nagata and Portilla are in Cuenca for the fourth annual Cuenca International Orchid Show at the Mall del Rio convention center. The show features orchid exhibits not only from Ecuador, but from Taiwan, Japan, Italy and the U.S. as well.

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Ecuagenera orchid

Portilla, who has run Ecuagenera for 22 years and who ships plants all over the world, says he is in conversations with tourism and agriculture officials about improving Ecuador’s promotion of the orchid growing industry.

Southern Ecuador, from Cuenca to south of Loja, is considered the country’s top orchid growing region due to soil, moisture and elevation conditions. On the equator, the optimum elevation for orchids is 600 to 2,800 meters.

The Mall del Rio show continues through November 14. Winning entries will be judged by experts from the U.S., Japan and Ecuador, with winners being announced this weekend.

Photo credit: Shirlee Severs. 

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