Anthurium flowers give hope to Mizoram famine-stricken

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Aizawl, May 25 (UNI) If bamboo flowers and the related rodent multiplication have brought about catastrophic famine in Mizoram, the Anthurium flower is the hope of Mizo farmers to uplift their economic condition.

The state horticulture department had introduced anthurium in Mizoram in 2002 for commercial cultivation under the Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the NE states.

''The first consignment sold to neighbouring states was dispatched in October 2003, 11 months after sowing the seeds, which proved that the state had the ideal climatic conditions for the flower,'' Horticulture Director Samuel Rosanglura said.

Now, with its moderate climate has become the largest anthurium producer with the state-produced best quality anthurium in high demand both in the country and abroad.

''The month of June sees anthurium at its peak. Our monthly export is likely to increase to 1,00,000 cut flowers during June,'' Zo-Anthurium Growers' Society secretary Lalhmangaihi told UNI here yesterday.

She also informed that about half of the total anthurium flowers produced in Mizoram were consumed in the state and the metropolitan cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi.

''Dubai is the biggest destination of Mizoram's anthurium and the exporters are now eyeing New Zealand and Australia. However, the main problem is that we are yet unable to meet the demand within India and abroad,'' Mr Lalhmangaihi said.

Presently, more than 70 varieties of anthurium were cultivated and more than 400 growers were engaged in it, the Horticulture director said, adding that under the technology mission programme more areas were being covered to be able to meet the global market's demand.

The export of anthurium was being undertaken by the Bangalore-based Zopar Export Limited.

Official sources said the monthly income of an anthurium-grower varies from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000.

''This venture has not only brought about a change in the horticulture scenario of the state, but also uplifted the living standard of the farmers,'' he said and attributed the success to the cordial relations between the department and the growers.

To promote anthurium flowers among Mizo farmers and attract tourists, the state horticulture and tourism departments initiated a colourful Anthurium Festival a few years ago.

Under the sponsorship of the Centre, the state is gearing up for another Anthurium Festival, scheduled on June 20 and 21.

''The Anthurium festival-cum-exhibition aims at promoting the market-friendly flower and attracting tourists to the scenic beauties of Mizoram,'' the officials said.

The festival would also serve as an exhibition for various local products -- fruits, vegetables, handloom and handicrafts.

The organisers hoped that large number of tourists would be attracted by this year's Anthurium Festival.

Following the gregarious bamboo flowering and its related boom in rats' population last year, rural Mizoram is reeling under acute rice shortage.

In the wake of the famine, the Congress slammed the state government for organising such an ''extravagant'' festival.

The party further alleged that the anthurium flower did not benefit the rural poor, but only the rich people in the urban areas.

UNI ZS DPM SW BD1055

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