Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Dec 03, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
TN Govt has big plan to make Nilgiris a `floriculture district'
Coonoor , Dec. 2
THE Tamil Nadu Government is committed to making Nilgiris a "Floriculture district," said the Commissioner of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, Dr R. Bhaskaran.
"For the last nine months, we have been working on a separate package for floriculture in the Nilgiris. Our intention is to guide the farmers on scientific cultivation and marketing so that they could stand on their own. We are not promoting floriculture as a substitute to tea, but to supplement the farmers' income from tea," Dr Bhaskaran told this correspondent.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on `The recent trends in floriculture business in the Nilgiris' held by the United Planters' Association of South India (UPASI) here.
Admitting that the details of the scheme had been made known earlier, he said that the time had not come to review the progress.
"Climate-wise, the Nilgiris is best suited for global floriculture business and considering the scope to augment India's share in the international trade, which is presently negligible, the State Government has drafted an ambitious plan to focus on floriculture development in the Nilgiris," he explained.
Urging the farmers to utilise the opportunity to their best, he said, "We are now identifying small growers and the self-help groups. We are giving subsidies as well. We have proposed to train 550 farmers this fiscal. The Hill Area Development Project (HADP) will render all necessary assistance in this regard".
Auction centre: Earlier, delivering the chief guest address at the seminar organised jointly by the UPASI and Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) with a number of facilitating agencies, Dr Bhaskaran said that the Government was examining a proposal to set up an auction centre for floriculture in the Nilgiris.
"We are looking at all ways of making such an auction centre most modern and beneficial to the farmers", he said.
He also said that the annual flower show being held in Udhagamandalam in May would be expanded to conduct three flower shows in different parts of Nilgiris.
Mr S.V. Naik, Assistant General Manager of Indian Bank in Coimbatore, urged the Government to quickly set up an auction centre in the Nilgiris for floriculture, since the farmers did not know to market their products.
Mr S. J. Chiru, Additional Collector of the Nilgiris and the Project Director of HADP, called for corporate marketing strategy and emphasis on quality production.
He promised to step in to improve the technological and communication facilities for the farmers in the Nilgiris.
The UPASI Secretary General, Mr Ullas Menon, said that planters have discovered that they are not cost competitive vis-à-vis other nations and there is a definite need to go in for supplementary income.
"Floriculture comes handy, as it has a bright scope. We should develop a Nilgiri brand for the flowers here," he said.
Mr Nadeem Ahmed, President, South Indian Floriculture Association, said that the Centre had drafted a national horticulture mission at an outlay of Rs 18,000 crore of which floriculture was a definite part.
Pointing out that the global floriculture industry is growing at 20 per cent annually, Dr S. Ramu, Head, KVK, said that India's share is negligible, despite several inherent advantages such as a suitable climate, abundance of land, low labour cost and proximity to markets.
He said that the total area under flowers in India is 65,000 hectares, with Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra holding the major share.
The domestic market is estimated at Rs 500 crore, with Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad accounting for a lion's share.
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