India Business
Northeast flowers promise blooming businesss
Apr 6, 2007 - 10:04:00 AM

Bangalore, April 6 - India's northeastern region has been identified as a potential floriculture hub and could go a long way in ushering in a green revolution in horticulture, say scientists.

The 40-year-old Indian Institute of Horticultural Research -, which conducts research to help achieve economic prosperity and nutritional security, is high on the potential of flowers from the northeast.

'There are about 25,000 species of orchids across the world belonging to the family orchidaceae and India is home to about 1,300 species of orchids. Of these, about 800 are found in the northeast,' IIHR scientist M.R. Hegde told a visiting team of journalists from Tripura.

'Many of these northeast orchids rank at the top of the list of ornamentally important ones.'

S.D. Shikhamany, director, IIHR, said: 'The eight northeastern states have one of the most ideal climates for commercial cultivation of floricultural crops.'

'Sikkim has declared the cymbidium orchid as a thrust crop and there are moves to develop an agri-export zone for cymbidium orchids.

'Nagaland and Meghalaya have launched projects to develop the floriculture sector and export flower and flower products besides encouraging people to start commercial cultivation of flowers,' the IIHR chief said.

'Mizoram has been identified as one of the best anthurium growing states.'

With the northeast's total geographical area being 255,000 square km, which is about eight percent of the country's total area, the region has three divisions - namely Meghalaya plateau, the northeastern hills and the Brahmaputra valley.

The proposed construction of a highway corridor to open up land routes to neighbouring countries as part of the Meckong-Ganga project would ensure easy access to new flower markets in other nations, the scientists said.

'India is the second largest producer of fruits after China, with a production of 44.04 million tonnes of fruits in an area of 3.72 million hectares across the country. Production will be doubled by 2012 to achieve a green revolution in horticulture,' Shikhamany said.

A large variety of fruits are grown in India, of which mango, banana, guava, grapes, pineapples and apples are the major ones.

'India is also the second largest producer of vegetables after China, with a total estimated production of 84 million tonnes from 6.2 million hectares and a growth rate of 2.6 percent,' the IIHR director said.

He said the present annual requirement of vegetables is estimated to be 100 million tonnes and is expected to be over 135 million tonnes by 2010. This leap can be achieved through the use of improved varieties and hybrid technology in combination with superior crop management skills.

'Farmers use pesticides indiscriminately for controlling pests and diseases. It is reported that one out of every 3,400 children between one and five years of age is a potential cancer victim as a consequence of consuming food with pesticide residues in childhood,' he said.

'Separate integrated pest management and integrated disease management technologies are available for the control of pests and diseases on vegetables.'

As against India's Rs.3.50 billion domestic trade in flowers, its exports stand at Rs.2.50 billion per annum while the annual value of vegetable exports is Rs.800 million.

The scientists said non-tariff barriers, steep airfreight rates, distance location of potential market were some of the bottlenecks to increasing India's export of vegetables, fruits and flowers.

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