NEW PLANT DISTRIBUTION CENTER
The NPDC is a statewide extension program to develop and promote Hawaii’s potential as producer of high-value new ornamentals and to create a global presence for its products. Its role and function is similar to other successful collaborations between academic institutions and industry in the US.
To be competitive in global markets Hawaii must capitalize on its variety of original new plants, become one of the centers of new plant distribution, and capture profits of market introduction in large scale.
Based on UH Manoa and utilizing current lab infrastructure, the NPDC aims to revitalize Hawaii’s nursery industry by developing technology that would reduce production costs, and to develop new international markets for Hawaii's high-value ornamentals.
The NPDC works in collaboration with the nursery industry by producing initial tissue cultured mother stock of new plants, supplying them to the growers who are then responsible to scale them to commercial numbers in a tissue culture lab of their choice, and assist them in developing new global markets to benefit local growers and the state's economy.
The NPDC attempts to stimulate the development of missing key strategic roles in the global ornamental market supply chain of Hawaii:
- To provide a support network and channels for growers and researchers to speed up the introduction of their new varieties to global markets.
- Continuous creation of new varieties via application of biotechnology.
- Strengthen export mix of high-value ornamentals by developing and creating new ornamental plants.
In general, the release of new plants through the NPDC involves:
- CTAHR & growers: New plant discovery program - identify and select promising new plants.
- CTAHR: Protocol research and development, and technology transfer.
- Hawaii tissue culture labs: Initiation of 1,000 cultures of mother stock.
- Hawaii nursery growers: Release of new plants to grower associations for testing and evaluation.
- Hawaii nursery growers: International marketing program - CTAHR assists in opening global markets.
NEW PLANT DISCOVERY/CREATION AND DEVELOPMENT
An ad hoc panel with expertise in each ornamental group of plants will consider market desirability and crop cultivation aspects in selecting new plants to be placed on a waiting list for development.
New plants for the NPDC will likely come from two sources:
- Collection of new plants from growers, CTAHR researchers, or the public.
- Creation of new plants. Breeding programs by growers, CTAHR researchers, or the public, using a variety of methods such as induced mutation techniques, or genetic engineering - plants likely to be patented by developers (CTAHR researchers or growers)
PROTOCOL R&D, AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
Plants that are relatively easier to clone with repeatable published
tissue culture protocols available will be subcontracted directly to
Research - Recalcitrant plants, which by definition are difficult to clone and have resource intensive and/or inefficient protocols. A protocol development program will be funded by competitive research grants or other sources. Protocol development for each new plant may take 1 to 3 years.
Technology transfer may occur at different stages of protocol development. Initial research findings will be made available via publications in refereed journals, extension publications, and website. Protocols will continue to be optimized for synchronization of cultures and faster technologies. Opportunities will be made available for transfer of technology via workshops when the protocols are sufficiently developed.
INITIATION OF CULTURES - HAWAII TC LABS
The initiation of 1,000 cultures of mother stock will require the collaboration of available tissue culture labs within the university system as well as commercial labs.
An International Tissue Culture Network coordinated by CTAHR is in development to provide micropropagation services to Hawaii's growers from initiation of cultures to mass scale propagation and delivery of plugs or tissue culture plantlets. Included in this network are local, national, and international labs.
NEW PLANT RELEASE - HAWAII GROWERS
Cuttings or tissue cultured clones of new plants are being released to
members of grower associations for evaluation of growth
rates, morphology, and market acceptance. Individual
growers may use the aseptic cultures of clones for mass propagation by
sending them to their preferred commercial tissue culture lab.
The first group of plants released through NPDC are Dracaenas that were collected by our previous extension specialist, John Griffis.
These 5 varieties are in the process of cloning via cuttings by Andrew Kawabata at Komohana experimental greenhouse in Hilo.
So far, only about 70 cuttings of D. ‘Ruth Luka’ have been released to HENA growers for market evaluation. To expedite the process, cloning of these 5 varieties has been subcontracted to C&T lab in the Big Island.
The lab has set a delivery schedule of 5,000 plants which are being released to Hawaii's grower associations during 2011. Growers who receive these aseptic tissue culture plants can send them to other commercial tissue culture labs for further cloning as a way to scale their numbers to their desired commercial needs.
DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL AND GLOBAL MARKETS
Local distribution of new plants through the NPDC will occur
in collaboration with extension agents in the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and
Collaborations with nursery industry extension programs in universities in the mainland will facilitate the opening of markets for Hawaii's new plants.
I selected the provinces of Guanzhao and Kunming in China as the first country to promote NPDC for two reasons:
- Fastest growing ornamental industry in the world over the last decade: about 20% annual growth rate, sales of $9.8 billion and flower exports $399 million in 2008.
- International plant show held in Foshan in December 2009, Guandong. Useful to get a broad overview of the ornamental business in China.
During the first trip, Nov 28 to Dec 15, 2009, we visited a
total of 16 growers in addition to a plant show. The trip opened
our eyes to the tremendous progress in ornamental business in
the two provinces we visited. We realized after the trip the
need to create one-of-a-kind ornamental plants, to mass produce
it and gain market share by releasing first into the global
markets. The focus has become the creation or development of new
The second China trip, from Oct 28 to Nov 15, 2010 was an agricultural trade mission for the state of Hawaii. I was invited because of my knowledge and experience with the Chinese growers and their ornamental industry. The trip mission was,
- Spur technology education and tourism exchange between Hawaii and China.
- To open up export opportunities for Hawaiian products, including cut flowers, potted plants, and fresh fruits into China.
The general response of 8 visited nursery growers during this
second trip was positive, expressing clear interest in 2 Hawaii
ornamentals. The successful reception of these plants has
increased the need to evaluate tissue culture lab options to
mass produce these plants in the next couple of years.