Saturday, March 15, 2008

International FloriShow 2008 begins “Sikkim has great potential in horticulture sector”

GANGTOK, March 14: Sikkim’s biggest international event, the International FloriShow 2008 was today inaugurated by Deputy Chairman of National Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia at the Saramsa Garden, today.
Governor Sudarshan Agarwal was on the guest of honour. Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling was accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, MLAs and senior officers from the State administration.
The Chief Guest, along with other dignitaries, spent a considerable amount of time in the exhibition stalls and also interacted with the participants.
The Saramsa Garden today exploded in myriad hues of beautiful blossoms on the first day of the Show, which drew huge crowds. A large number of school students and the local gentry visited the Garden today.
In his inaugural address at the Convention Centre, the Deputy Chairman, while appreciating the advancements made by the Sikkim in various areas of development, said that Sikkim will be given a major thrust in the Plan components. “The strategy agricultural growth cannot be completed without horticulture and floriculture and we have included this in the process of the 11th five year Plan, Mr. Ahluwalia said. These two sectors are important sectors from which substantial growth is sought, he said. A four per cent growth target in agriculture sector has been set, with 2.5 per cent for food grains, he added.
Mr. Ahluwalia also applauded the Chief Minister for conceptualising the international flower show at Saramsa Garden, thus turning it into a major attraction in the State.
He said that the key areas that the State had great potential were hydro power generation and ecotourism. He assured that the State’s demand for an airport will be given priority. The demand for improvement in the road connectivity to the State will also be taken up at the earliest, he said. “Both hydropower generation and ecotourism activities have tremendous potential in Sikkim. Improved road and air connectivity, which is the need of the hour for the State, will give a much-needed fillip to both these sectors,” he said.
“There is a great deal of movement happening in the State,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said that this international event was just a step towards realising the dream of his Government to convert Sikkim as of the major horticultural states in the country.
“We have fully understood the potential of this sector and the need to tap it for the State’s economic growth. We are planning huge investments in this sector. It is our aspiration that horticulture becomes the profession of the new generation. We are the only State in the country producing cymbidium orchids on a commercial basis in the country. Cymbidium orchid is the most important flower with a potential to emerge as a monopoly crop in future. We have clearly realised that horticulture development can lead to growth in apiculture in the State as well. With the focus now on development of adequate infrastructure, we can go in for production of cut flowers on a large scale commercial basis in the State,” he said.
“Our primary goal is to transform Sikkim into a nature’s school, which teaches us to value the importance of nature and how to live in harmony with nature,” he said.
All development activities will be based on the principles of sustainable development practices and will be carried out without harming the environment, he said
Mr. Chamling also highlighted the rich bio-diversity of the State and the efforts of his government towards environment protection.
The Guest of Honour, Governor Agarwal released a souvenir of the FloriShow on the occasion. The Chief Guest releases a report on the primary study on horticultural prospects in the State.
Earlier, the State minister for agriculture, Somnath Poudhyal, in his welcome address, said that the International FloriShow was just a small beginning towards promoting Sikkim as a major horticulture State.
PK Mishra, Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India, said that Sikkim had made good use of the Technology Mission Programme, for integrated development of horticulture launched in 2001-02 in order to improve livelihood opportunities and bring prosperity to the North Eastern States. The Mission is based on the “end-to-end approach” taking into account the entire gamut of horticulture development, with all backward and forward linkages, in a holistic manner, he said.
Mr. Mishra said that this region had tremendous potential in the horticulture sector and in the last few years, the direct market in this sector has generated Rs. 1000 crores for farmers despite there being no organised market in the region. The country exported horticultural products with Rs. 652 crores in 2006-07, he said.
The International FloriShow is being organised by the State Department of Horticulture, and is supported by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, National Horticulture Board, Agriculture & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority and DONER.