Flowers play a key role in ensuring the economic well being of the state, said the Agriculture Minister S. Dhamodharan while inaugurating the three-day Annual Floral Carnival (AFC) organized by the Department of Horticulture in association with the district administration at the Government Botanical Garden (GBG) here on Friday.

Pointing out that Tamil Nadu now stands first in the production of loose flowers, he said that the activity extends over 25,000 hectares and the production was 1.75 lakh tonnes.

Pointing out that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was keen on developing horticulture, he said that a number of subsidy schemes relating to cultivation technologies are being implemented for the benefit of small and tiny farmers engaged in cultivating flowers.

He urged farmers to make optimum use of them.

Listing the plans on the anvil to help the farming community, he said that Model Villages for Micro Irrigation are in the process of being created in each district. In each block Integrated Farms would be established. An international horticulture show would be organized in Chennai. Rupees 50 lakhs has been earmarked for it.

In a bid to take floriculture in the state to a higher level, a demonstration unit will come up at Kodaikanal at an estimated cost of rupees 3.5 crores. There is also a move to create model horticulture villages in the Nilgiris by extending subsidy for inputs.

Adverting to the Golden Nematode problem in potato cultivation in the Nilgiris, Mr. Dhamodharan said that it would be tackled by putting up seed production units at Erode and Krishnagiri.

A cold storage facility will be established at Mettupalayam at a cost of rupees 4.6 crores.

Farmers festivals are being organized to enhance awareness about various schemes.

Pointing out that the Ooty Flower Show was internationally renowned, he said that it not only motivated flower growers but also had a soothing effect on the visitors.

Tribals should accord high priority for education and join the mainstream.

Blaming the previous regime for the power problems in the state, he assured that a plea for exempting the Nilgiris from power cuts would be taken with the Minister concerned. The demand of horticulture workers here for a wage hike would be considered.

The Commissioner, Horticulture and Plantation Crops Santosh Babu who presided said that for the first time the Flower Show had been organized in a totally different manner and added that focus was on making it environment friendly. Novelties like a sand art by World renowned sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik had been introduced.

Emphasis was on making the show as plastic free as possible.

The Nilgiris Collector Archana Patnaik said that this year’s flower show was a mixture of old and new.

The Ooty MLA M. Buddhichandran said that the novelties should be welcomed.

Former Minister A. Miller, Senate Member, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University K.R. Arjunan and the Chairperson, Udhagamandalam Municipal Council K. Sathyabhama also spoke.

The Joint Director of Horticulture G. Mohan welcomed the gathering.

The Assistant Director of Horticulture V. Ramsundar proposed a vote of thanks.

The release of a DVD on flowers of the Nilgiris and dedication of a website on the AFC by Mr. Dhamodharan marked the occasion.