GUWAHATI, Jan 10 - Four years back, a group of progressive farmers had set up a small green house orchidarium in about half a bigha of land at Silapathar in Dhemaji district, about four km from the Arunachal border, under an MGNREGA project. The orchidarium has now turned into a huge draw for tourists, housing some 800 hybrid orchid plants of eight species.
In fact, the orchidarium is also getting support from National Research Centre for Orchids (NRCO), Sikkim, whose scientists are now providing all necessary guidance, including fertilizers and insecticides etc. The research centre has also provided about 100 plants of zygopetalum, epidendrum, cymbidium & vanda for research and they have recorded beautiful bloom.
“We have also started conserving native orchid species in about one bigha area which is under progress under MGNREGA. As of now we have around 50 native species collection,” said Gautam Krishna Goswami, leader of the farmers’ group.
The foothills of Dhemaji district are very much suitable for orchid cultivation.
Experts say hybrid orchid cultivation can provide a lot of employment opportunities and income generation to the farmers like in Sikkim and Darjeeling as hybrid orchid cut flowers have lot of market demand in India and abroad.
The hybrid orchidarium was constructed under the initiative of the then DC of Dhemaji MS Manivannan, who after organising an Orchid Festival at Dhemaji, had entrusted the farmers' group to set up the project under an MGNREGA project.
“A lot of tourists from Arunachal Pradesh and Assam visit the orchidarium, purchase orchids now. We are now able to generate some income from selling orchids. We plan to export the flowers soon if things go as planned,” Goswami said.
“Support from the State Government is essential for doing commercial hybrid orchid cultivation in large scale. Dhemaji, which is otherwise known for bad reasons like flood and backwardness, could be a hub of orchid production if necessary back up is given,” the farmer said.
However, the farmers’ group has expressed satisfaction in the way the district administration has shown interest in the project as the successive Deputy Commissioners of the district had paid visits to the orchidarium.
Orchids form around 9% (over 1,300 indigenous species) of the flora in India, and Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam are all orchid-rich States. Orchid contributes to around 10% of the global flower market.