MAO, April 12: "For the last 15 years, the flower business has kept my family afloat. The money from selling flowers also goes to support my children's education. If only the government or the banks helped us through with subsidized loans, we could even have targeted export. There is lot of demand for flowers, plants and even dry flowers from both within and outside the state," said Nisha Mao, a florist who participated in the Second Flower Festival in Manipur, organized by the Mao Flower Growers' Association with assistance from the Horticulture department.
This is the reality in frontier state Manipur, identified as a floriculture hotspot. The irony is profound given the fact that the Union ministry of Commerce and Industry's plan for a roadmap to promote floriculture in Northeastern states like Sikkim, galnd, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur as India tries to venture into export oriented floriculture by its development in the region.
Altogether 64 florists from all over Manipur took part in the three-day festival from 9th to 11th April at Mao in the hill district Sepati, where over 35 varieties of rare species of flowers were on display. Besides colorful flowers, bonsai plants drew huge crowds at the fair. Manipur is home to rare flora including varieties of flowers and rare orchids. Mao, lying at 1788 metres above sea level, has a vibrant floriculture and horticulture in the station. Situated 100 km from capital city Imphal, Mao is a charming hill station, a must destition for adventure tourists for the trek to its stunningly picturesque valley where the rare Dzuku lilly blooms — surrounded by the rolling hillocks, embraced by rivulets and embellished with amazing rock faces and caves.
Manipur Governor, V Shanmugathan who iugurated the Flower Festival, encouraged the Flower Growers' Association and offered his assistance in promoting floriculture in the state.
"The theme of the Flower Festival this time is 'Colors of Spring'. It is being organized to preserve, promote and develop the gift of ture endowed upon the land. The festival is aimed at bringing florists of the State closer and uniting them under one forum for their welfare," said Kajichew, convenor of the organising committee.
"Floriculture is certainly a way to economic emancipation, especially for a small state like Manipur, endowed with suitable climatic conditions. Some flower species of Manipur are in great demand in Indian metros as well intertiol cites like Singapore, Amsterdam and Tokyo. The government must do all it can to tap this sector," said Haridas Sharma, former director of Manipur's Agriculture department.
The festival was a huge success, drawing crowds both from Manipur and neighbouring state galand. The rates at which some flower plants were sold at the festival can give an idea about how lucrative floriculture can be for unemployed youths.
Regal Pelargonium hybrid at Rs 3,000, seasol Orchids Rs 2,500, Hydrange Rs 800, Geranium Rs 700, Petunia Night Sky Rs 500, Azalea Rs 500, Alstro Meria Rs 250, Chrysanthemum Rs 250, Rose Rs 250, Cartion Rs 250, Fuchsia Rs 200, Begonia Rs 200, Cenireria Rs 150, Calceolaria Rs 150 and Primula at Rs 100.
Currently there are over 7,00,000 registered educated unemployed youths in the state which has a population of 28 lakh. Unemployment is seen as a major factor for the unrelenting insurgency ravaging the border state. Growing flowers can open up employment avenues for a sizeable number of youths in the state.