Three awards are glistening in the bright fluorescent light in the hall of IPM Essen. “We have been awarded the title of International Grower of the Year 2020, and we also won the Young Plants, Gold Rose and the Sustainability award,” says Robert Kuijf (picture), Product Specialist at Anthura, proudly. With the help of MPS-ABC, MPS-GAP and MPS-ProductProof, Anthura shows the market that their anthuriums and orchids are cultivated with respect for people and nature.

“Orchids and anthuriums are the cleanest products these days when you consider the use of resources,” Kuijf beams as he stands in his exhibition booth, surrounded by anthurium and orchids.

Three years ago, orchids came into disrepute when Greenpeace found banned substances in a sample. “It was a wake-up call for the orchid industry. It is up to us to ensure that we remain at the forefront of sustainable production. The Dutch orchid sector has shown that this is possible. Thanks to many mutual discussions about how things can be improved, orchids have become one of the most sustainable products.”

Hero in Switzerland

Anthura has put itself squarely on the map not only in the Netherlands; the Swiss also hold the company in high regard. Anthura managed to prevent the extinction of the rare Cypripedium calceolus, a wild orchid found in Switzerland. This plant was as good as extinct because, despite severe fines, because it was a popular target for the illegal trade. Attempts to plant laboratory plants in nature failed, until Anthura succeeded in growing the seed that was harvested in the wild. In 2018, 3,000 wild orchids were returned to Swiss nature. Kuijf: “When I went back last year to see how things were going with the plants, Swiss people came up to me to shake my hand, weeping with joy. This plant is to Switzerland what panda bears are to China.” Approximately 80 percent of the wild orchids survived the winter.

“As a thank you, the Swiss gave us fifty mother plants that we are now using for further breeding and production,” says Kuijf. As a result, the Swiss orchid will be made legally available, thus curbing illegal trade. “Soon, we hope to be able to apply our knowledge in Germany, where they are struggling with a similar issue. We hope to be successful there, too.”