When Roger Scholten noticed how the plant and flower production in Holambra, Brazil had been increasing, he started growing plants in 2009. He is grows dendrobium and draceana. Since a visit to Holland last year, he has been thinking about other trips abroad to expand his knowledge. “I don’t travel as much as I would like to.”
How did you end up in Brazil?
“I was born here in 1981. My grandfather was a dairy farmer in Brabant. Because of the bad economic situation in the Netherlands, he decided to emigrate to Holambra in 1949. He was one the first people to arrive. When my grandparents emigrated, they already had seven children. My father was born here. My grandfather started out with cows, chickens, sweetcorn and cotton. When my father joined him, they started growing oranges. After a crisis, they switched to chicken egg production.”
How did you get into the floricultural industry?
“I studied to be an agricultural engineer and I wanted to work outside the family business, but that didn’t make me happy. I asked my father if I could start my own company. I’d noticed how the plant and flower production in Holambra had been increasing, so that’s what I started with in 2009. My uncle was about to stop his zamioculcas production, so I took it over. I started with 3,000 m2 and my company now consists of 1 ha, half of it is used for dendrobium and the other half for dracaena.”
No more zamioculcas?
“No, there was too much competition. The prices we could get were too low. Friends gave me some dendrobium seedlings in 2010. I started with dracaena at the same time. Other dracaena growers don’t have a large-scale production either, so there’s space for me. The overall dendrobium production is quite large, but there’s a big market for it too. I grow dracaena in all pot sizes: 12, 17, 24, 30, 40 and 52 cm. The dendrobium pot sizes are 12 and 15.”
Can you easily get propagation materials?
“For dendrobium, I get seedlings from Thailand. But I can’t import any dracaena. It isn’t allowed. That makes it difficult for me to get cuttings of certain varieties. There’s a lot of bureaucracy in Brazil, working with the authorities isn’t easy. In the Netherlands for example, it’s much easier to acquire new varieties.
Are you going to vote in October?
“I believe that the government is the biggest enemy of the Brazilian floricultural industry. Brazil is politically unstable. And that has an impact on the economy. The economy is good one year and bad the next. Furthermore, all the different levels of the government are characterised by corruption. There will be elections in October, but so far I haven’t seen a candidate I’d like to vote for.”
Do you often visit colleagues abroad?
“I don’t travel as much as I would like to. I visited the Netherlands for the first time last November. I went to IFTF and Trade Fair, Ter Laak Orchids, Dümmen Orange, as well as some poinsettia, begonia and succulent growers. I’m now importing the Waterwick, which I saw at the fairs. I’ve got to pay 60% import duties on it, though. Since my visit to Holland, I’ve been thinking about other trips abroad to expand my knowledge.
What are your plans for the future?
“My greenhouses are very basic at the moment, without any fan-and-pad system, cooling or heating facilities. Today for example, the temperature in the greenhouse went up to 37 degrees. Cold temperatures can cause problems too. In April, May, June and July, it can get as cold as 6 degrees. That will stop the plants from growing, causing a gap in my production. Everything I earn, I invest in my company. With a little help from the bank. But the interest rates are high: 8.5 to 9%. I might purchase a misting system to control the relative humidity in my greenhouses. I’ve got 33 hectares in Holambra, so plenty of space to grow!”
Company: Bloemin Flores e Plantas
Crop: dracaena and dendrobium
Place: Holambra, Brazil