The Horticulture Technology Mission has scripted a huge success story in floriculture in Mizoram, making it possible for even ordinary women to earn handsome money.

One of the notable beneficiaries of the Horticulture Technology Mission’s efforts is Lalthuamliani of Durtlang village, about eight kilometres north of Aizawl.

Ms. Lalthuamliani, who began her anthurium cultivation with 1,000 plants, now has 10,500 plants and earns upto Rs 35,000 a month.

She has even been praised by former President A P J Abdul Kalam and Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh at her residence when they came calling to appreciate her efforts.

Another success story is that of Lalzamlovi, a housewife living in Aizawl. She earned Rs 1 lakh from her anthurium garden at Ramrikawn, about an hour’s drive from the city, in 2007. She has tripled her annual income since.

The director of the State horticulture department, Samuel Rosanglura, said the launch of the technology mission for north-eastern states in 2001-02 was a turning point for the horticulture department in Mizoram.

He said the potential of horticulture as a sustainable means of livelihood has gained more recognition since the mission was launched.

The impact of the technology mission in the State can mainly be felt in the production of cash crops and fruits, but womenfolk in the state mainly benefit from the body’s floriculture initiatives.

Anthurium cultivation was introduced under the technology mission by the State horticulture department in November, 2002, by selecting 24 potential growers.

Dr Saipari, the Joint Director of the Horticulture department, said there are now more than 400 anthurium growers, with an average annual income of Rs 6,000 to Rs 20,000, who have united under the banner ‘Zo Anthurium Growers Society.’

Anthurium cut flowers were first exported to the United Arab Emirates in August, 2006. Subsequently, consignments of the flowers found their way to London, Japan and Australia in 2007 and 2008.

The abundance of anthurium flowers in Mizoram has prompted the state tourism department to organise an ’Anthurium Kut’ festival every year since 2006 at the Reiek Tourist Resort, about one hour’s drive from Aizawl, which attracts tourists from around the globe.

The cultivation of roses has also played a great part in the floriculture success story in Mizoram.

Forty-five-year-old Hmingthansiami of Tlangsam hamlet on the Mizoram-Myanmar border never had any occupation until she started cultivation of roses in a green house provided by the state horticulture department under the Technology Mission in 2006.

Cultivation of Dutch Roses on a commercial scale inside hi-tech green houses commenced in the State in 2006 and at present, over 10,000 rose cut flowers are harvested every day.

Dr. Saipari says that as local demand in the State is too high, only around 30 per cent of the flowers are exported outside the State, while the surplus produce is dispatched to Shillong, Guwahati, Kolkata and Delhi.

Ten varieties of Dutch roses are grown in the State, mainly along the Mizoram-Myanmar border in Champhai district, earning it the sobriquet, ‘Rose Bowl of Mizoram.’

Not only floriculture, the Technology Mission has brought success to the farming sector as well, with the unproductive ’jhumming’ (slash and burn) method gradually replaced by modern and scientific farming, Dr. Saipari said.

He said the scientific farming methodologies introduced in the State include protected cultivation and production of off-season crops, resulting in increased productivity.

Introduction of Hawaiin Solo variety and later the Taiwanese ‘Red Lady’ variety of papaya has boosted farmers’ profits, while advanced varieties of banana and other fruit crops like passion fruit, mandarin orange, off-season cabbage and mushroom cultivation are also in demand.

Thanks to the Technology Mission, more than 1,000 grape growers are also earning good income.

People in the State, where a dry law has been in force for 13 years, are thrilled with the production of grape wine at two wineries in Champhai district recently.