Farmers swear by orchid’s blooming prospects


Most land dedicated to ‘precision crop’ was used for paddy cultivation; govt. subsidy is icing on cake

Orchid farming is catching up in Telangana’s climatically arid terrain. Spread across Hyderabad, Medak and Sangareddy districts, 30 acres are currently dedicated to orchid farming alone, even though this variety of flowering plant requires a humidity of 80% and temperature of 20 degree Celsius to thrive.

Most of the land dedicated to orchid plantation was earlier used for cultivating paddy.

The farmers have been supplying orchids to over 500 private auditoriums in the city which were earlier dependent on varieties imported from Thailand.

Using a conducive farming technique called polyhouse, which is similar in design to greenhouse, 10 farmers have been cultivating orchids for the past one year. Each orchid stalk is sold in the market for ₹15 to ₹20, thereby giving the farmers a handsome ₹20 lakh profit in six months. Thanks to this innovation among others, the union government on June 21 declared Telangana, the State with the highest growth in the sector of agriculture and horticulture.

“Farmers could adopt the planting technique because polyhouse is cost efficient as it uses wind energy to circulate air inside the tent. It reduces temperature and increases humidity without using electricity, thereby reducing costs by 50 to 60% when compared to a greenhouse,” L. Venkatram Reddy, Commissioner of Horticulture and Sericulture told The Hindu.

While polyhouse can be set up at a cost of ₹35 lakh, the State government gives a grant of ₹25 lakh to farmers with three acres who are ready to attempt this plantation. The State further gives 75 to 95% subsidy for taking up this ‘precision crop’. Telangana’s Horticulture department planted the orchids — Sonia red and Sonia white — at its Centre of Excellence in Jeedimetla before introducing the method to farmers.

Other exotic flowers

Apart from orchids, farmers in Ranga Reddy district have also been planting gerbera, a flower found mostly in Holland. It is sold for ₹2 to ₹3 per stalk.

“Gerbera requires humidity of 50 to 55% and is comparatively easy to grow and maintain. Each plant lives for seven years. This is more popular than orchids,” Mr. Reddy said.

Farmers have dedicated 700 acres to the cultivation of gerbera. Carnation, another flower which requires humid and moderate climate, has also been cultivated along with gerbera in Ranga Reddy.

The Horticulture department expects flower plantations in Telangana to grow by 15 to 20% in the next few years, thanks to financial support offered by the government.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 7:57:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/farmers-swear-by-orchids-blooming-prospects/article24247899.ece

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