How Sikkim succeeded in blooming orchid cultivation

Sikkim, a hilly state in the Eastern Himalayas, have five climatic zones consisting of lower hill, middle and higher hills, alpine zones and snow bound land. Nearly 82% of the land is forest covered and the unique biodiversity of state is well known throughout the world and covers 0.2% of national geographical area only, however, harbours 26% of the India’s total biodiversity that accounts 7–8% of recorded species in the world.

In Sikkim, Agriculture and tourism are the main economic activity of the people. The pace of agriculture, horticulture and other farming practices are not uniform. Natural climatic conditions, sloping topography of land, narrow strip terrace cultivation, very low per capita land availability are limiting the scope of cultivating any single crop or variety to grow at different slopes. Modern agricultural techniques have opened avenues and scope for promoting high value crops like flower crops.

Even though, East Sikkim has advanced in floricultural crops due to marketing avenues and urbanisation, the potential of commercialisation has not been fully exploited. The state government agencies laid basic foundation for horizontal expansion with infrastructural facilities like polyhouse cultivation and input material supply.

ICAR-National Research Centre for Orchids, Sikkim played a crucial role in imparting training and extension for its stakeholders, progressive orchid farmers and staff from state department, on orchid production and protection technologies. Model Floriculture Unit was showcased and demonstrated at institute on orchids and roses. Large scale quality plating material of Cymbidium hybrids was distributed to the group of farmers, apart from providing seedlings of early flowering and scented Zygopetalum orchid. Recently, the village cluster from Rai Gaon, East Sikkim was adopted for Orchid technology demonstration and assistance under ‘Mera Goan Mera Gaurav’ scheme. Declaration of Sikkim as organic state by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18 Jan 2016 added feather in the cap to the on-going programmes aiming for premium returns through small scale enterprise.

Apart from revenue from farm produce these new developments led to the Sikkim farmers to produce orchid flowers and seasonal flowers and earned laurels on different occasions.

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