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Sikkim set to flaunt flower power to world

Gangtok, Feb 4 (IANS) Flowers and nature lovers will script a new tourism trail in Sikkim when the state plays host to more than 200,000 visitors at the second International Flower Show in Sikkim Feb 23-27 that will combine business, fun and a renewed commitment to protect the fragile environment of the Himalayan state.

Home to nearly 5,000 species of flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak varieties, 23 bamboo varieties, 16 conifer species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, eight tree ferns and over 424 medicinal plants, Sikkim is pinning its business aspiration on floriculture and related trade as one of the primary economic lifelines of the future.

The international flower show will draw participants from the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Nepal as well, the Political and Economic Journal of Sikkim said in a report in its latest issue.

On display will be an array of exotic flowers like cymbidium orchids, rhododendrons and liliums.

The contingent of 550 participants at the show will include 75 growers, officials of horticulture and agriculture and others officials.

"With Sikkim's five climatic zones, we have been home to some of the most beautiful flower varieties. I see floriculture as a profession of the 21st century," Chief Minister Pawan Chamling told the Journal.

Sikkim Governor B.P. Singh recalled how he was taken aback with the beauty of flowers in northern Sikkim.

"The colours and beauty are difficult to put into words," he said.

The government is serious about promoting floriculture, enhancing not just the beauty of the state but also the lives of farmers who have taken to floriculture for a living. It has set up training schools at the district elevl to train flower growers.

Prahma Pradhan, a floricultarist, sells 50-100 roses daily. When she began growing flowers to supplement her family's earning, "it wasn't without scepticism". Today her family is earning well.

"The idea is to showcase to India and rest of the world the variety of flowers we grow in Sikkim. Also for the farmers, it is a wonderful way of connecting with more buyers... We are learning every day. We have cold storage vans at the farms, which help farmers deliver flowers safely. Once they reach a central location, there is a bigger storage facility from which flowers are sent to other parts of India and countries," Horticulture Minister D.N. Thakarpa told the Journal.

Apart from the flowers, there will also be an exhibition of vegetables, spices, roots and tubers, bamboos and mushrooms, tools equipment and organic inputs.

Sikkim is situated in an ecological hotspot of the lower Himalayas, one of the only three among the eco-regions of India. The orchid dendrobium nobile is the official flower of Sikkim, while the rhododendron is the state tree.

Indo Asian News Service

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