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The Dutch Clock

Inaugurated in 2001, the Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Center (KIFA), nestled in Yunnan Province, China, stands as the world's second largest flora auction trading hub, trailing only behind the Royal Flora Holland in the Netherlands. Spanning a vast 160,000m², KIFA boasts two auction halls and twelve  ‘auction clocks,’ facilitating the daily sale of 4.5 million flowers, with an annual roster of 1,500 flower and plant species.


KIFA employs the ‘Dutch clock auction’ method, a descending price auction that sees prices drop second-by-second until a bidder locks in the current price, securing the item. This system mirrors the urgency and dynamism of the flower market, where timing is everything.


Working at KIFA, however, is not without its challenges. Employees, from auctioneers to logistics personnel, endure long hours and erratic schedules, especially preceding major holidays like Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, when the demand for flowers skyrockets. This results in marathon workdays, sometimes extending up to 20 hours, to ensure flowers reach their destinations with optimal freshness.


The workforce at KIFA is divided into two main categories: the flower dealers, who spend their days scrutinizing blooms and bidding in the auction halls, and the logistics team, responsible for the meticulous tasks of receiving, grading, and dispatching flowers to buyers. The latter group often comprises seasonal workers, hired specifically for peak periods to manage the increased workload.


A testament to its significance, KIFA saw four billion flowers auctioned during QiXi, the Chinese Valentine's Day, making it the source of eighty percent of the roses gifted across China on this occasion.


This project aims to shed light on the daily operations and the individuals behind the scenes at KIFA, bringing to life the intricate dance around the ‘Dutch clock’ that ensures the cut flower industry thrives. 

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