Orchids are the attraction at El Valle

A visit to El Valle de Antón without seeing any orchids is unforgivable for residents of this tourist sector that houses the largest variety of these plants and protects them in a conservation center administered by El Valle peasants, under the guidance of a Japanese group.

The El Valle and Cabuya Association of Orchid Producers (APROVACA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to care for and conserve orchids, explains the coordinator, Viviana Rodríguez.

"We are dedicated to the conservation of native orchids that are endangered by problems such as deforestation and illegal harvesting by people who do not yet understand that these species can not be cut without proper treatment, because they could be lost and the species extinguished," she said.

Residents of El Valle and Cabuya de Antón currently manage the conservation center, protecting the orchids and then transplanting them to Cerro Gaytal monument, a protected area that prohibits their extraction," she indicated.

According to Crescencio Sánchez, another APROVACA member, poaching orchids to take home or sell at high prices in the El Valle market is a real problem, because people continue even though it is illegal. People who do not know how to remove the orchid do so regardless of the consequences for each species. Due to this issue, the sale of orchids endemic to El Valle de Antón is forbidden, and only those authorized by the group can be sold.

Mrs. Rodríguez reports that the Japanese were the ones who encouraged them to conserve the orchids and then take them to Cerro Gaytal, and that's why they work towards propagating some 100 different types of native orchids, which will then be transplanted in the forest to ensure that they don't go extinct.

All types of orchids can be observed in the orchid conservation center, from miniatures to the biggest varieties, all of incomparable beauty and available for purchase for $20 dollars.

A trained tourist guide gives center visitors a tour of the facility and explains the kinds of orchids they are observing, differentiating those that are endemic or unique to El Valle from flowers from other countries, detailed Rodríguez.

Source: www.diaadia.com.pa