₹1.83-cr. project by JNTBGRI to promote orchid cultivation as an art and a means of income
With their delicate, stunningly beautiful flowers, they have stolen the hearts of flower lovers. Orchids, in all their splendid variety, are now poised to give a fillip to the fledgeling floriculture industry in Kerala via a ₹1.83-crore project landed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI), Palode.
The project, ‘Micropropagation and cultivation of native orchids and hybrids for on-farm conservation and income generation in Kerala through cluster formation,’ has been granted by the Department of Biotechnology under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology for a period of three years.
The JNTBGRI will train 100 beneficiaries in clusters in the tricky mechanics of orchid growing and equip them with high-quality planting materials. The aim is to promote the cultivation of export-quality orchids as a means of income for hobbyists, farmers, women’s groups, and the unemployed youth. India boasts 160 genera and over 1,300 species of orchids, but they lack commercial allure, being slow, seasonal bloomers with short shelf life, according to the JNTBGRI. On the other hand, high-quality hybrids imported from Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia with a vase life of 20 to 30 days are all the rage, which also throws open windows of opportunity.
“We will use imported and native hybrids and wild orchids to supply planting materials to the beneficiaries. They will be trained in the propagation of the plants and the marketing aspects. If this model is successful, the combined annual income through flower sales by the 100 beneficiaries is estimated to be ₹1.84 crore,” said R. Prakashkumar, JNTBGRI Director and principal investigator of the project.
Wealth of experience
Founded in 1979, the JNTBGRI has amassed a wealth of experience in the recovery of threatened orchids and has been successful in reintroducing several. The orchidarium at the institute boasts 500 wild species and 200 hybrid varieties.
Since commercial hybrids are mostly the products of breeding, fine-tuned into an art by orchid hobbyists, the institute figures that the supply of breeding stocks to hobbyists could help improve native orchids from a commercial point of view. Besides, Kerala has the right ingredients for a booming orchid industry, according to the institute. The climate is ideal for growing almost all the orchid varieties, including dendrobium, cymbidium, phalaenopsis, and vanda that enjoy public appeal.
Promoting orchid cultivation as an art and a means of income aside, the JNTBGRI programme aims at standardising protocols for native orchid species and commercial hybrids where such protocols are not available.
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