China produces about 9 billion fresh flowers a year, which equates to nearly seven for each person, statistics with the Chinese Association of Flowers show.
However, the level is still low compared with developed countries, especially in terms of spending on fresh flowers, according to Wang Dianfu, secretary-general of the flowers association, speaking at the China Shenyang International Horticultural Exposition that opened last week in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.
The statistics show that a Chinese person only spends an average of about US$1 on fresh flowers a year, less than one thirtieth of a Japanese person, he said.
Wang said that China has become the largest production base of flowers in the world. In 2004, China reported a flower planting area of up to 636,000 hectares, nearly 30 times larger than that of 20 years ago and taking up one third of the world's total.
"China had almost no flower industry two decades ago," said Wang, who attributed the increase to China's fast economic development and improvement of people's livelihoods over the past years.
"When people could not eat their fill, how could they use large pieces of land for planting flowers," he said.
The flower industry has become a fast-developing sector in China. Statistics with the association show that the flower output value was more than 43 billion yuan (US$5.4 billion) in 2004, nearly 60 times that of two decades ago.
In 2004, China flower exports stood at US$140 million and more than three million people were engaged in flower businesses.
Over the past eight years, the planting area and output value of flowers in China have both experienced an annual growth rate of 30 percent, Wang said.
However, China is still lagging behind other countries in terms of horticultural technologies and techniques, he said, citing that in the greenhouses of the Netherlands, every square meter of soil can produce 300 to 400 fresh roses, while in China, it is only one tenth of that level.
"China has rich labor resources and a huge market as well, so the flower industry in this country still has huge potential," Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2006)