A national conference on orchids, held on Thursday by the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) and The Orchid Society of India (TOSI), called for strategies to increase cut flower export.

Inaugurating the conference, N.K. Krishnakumar, Deputy Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), said steps should be taken for securing the Intellectual Property rights for indigenous varieties of orchids.

“India should be proud of its orchid treasure. Understanding biodiversity is the foundation for conserving orchids. Multiplication through biotechnological methods should be encouraged,” he said.

Ecological balance

He pointed out the importance of maintaining ecological balance. “Deriving livelihood from nature is inevitable. But it should not go beyond admissible limits and upset ecological balance. Conservation of biodiversity leads to protection of many organisms that we may not even know. On the other hand, extinction of a single species known to us may also decimate many unknown organisms. Recent reports on Indonesian oil palm plantations swallowing Orangutan habitats are disturbing. We already know the absence of honey bees in modern mango plantations. The future of pristine honey is in peril,” he added. KAU Vice Chancellor P. Rajendran said development of orchidology could generate rural employment. “It will help women find more jobs. The KAU is involved in research and development of orchids and has developed several varieties. Despite considerable advancements in the branch of study, India is much behind Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Climate and other factors in Kerala are favourable to orchid cultivation,” he added.

Orchid diversity

Presiding over the function, scientist A.K. Bhatnagar stated that farmers should make use of the orchid diversity in India. “Many orchids have medicinal properties. Some of them were used in ancient ayurvedic preparations,” he said.

Paramjjit Singh, Director, Botanical Survey of India, spoke about the activities of the BSI and pioneers of Indian orchidology.

Those present on the occasion included T. R. Gopalakrishnan, KAU Director of Research; H. B. Singh, Senior Scientist, Department of Science and Technology; P. K. Rajeevan, Vice President, TOSI; Promila Bhat, organising secretary; and P. K. Valsalakumary, coordinator. The Usha Vij Awards for 2014, instituted by the TOSI, were presented to S. C. Mishra (Odisha) and Anil Sood (Punjab).

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