The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left looks up to flowers

Calcutta, June 15: When Mao Zedong asked a thousand flowers to bloom, Bengal was not on his mind. But the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has now set its eyes on a bloom boom to fill up its near-empty coffers.

With an increasing demand for flowers from abroad and the government keen on developing infrastructure for flower production, there has been a steady growth in the state’s share of exports over the past six months.

The latest development on the front was the decision to cultivate flowers in Birbhum, which has suitable soil but has suffered from lack of initiative. The State Food Processing and Horticulture Development Corporation, a state government undertaking, has joined hands with the Santiniketan-Sriniketan Development Authority and the local panchayat to cultivate flowers in Bolpur for export.

The flowers are likely to head for Holland, England and some West Asian countries.

After a meeting yesterday, chairman of the development authority and MP from the area Somnath Chatterjee, managing director of the corporation . Hazra, a representative of the Mullickghat Flower Market in the city, Sudhangshu Seal, and local panchayat members decided to cultivate flowers on 30 acres in Bolpur. There is provision to include about 20 acres of adjacent land in the project later.

The model project was estimated to cost Rs 20 lakh and would put Bolpur on Bengal’s flower map. The town had not contributed flower produce to the state so far. Government land will be used to set up green houses to produce tube rose, gladioli, cock’s combs. Roses will be grown on an experimental basis. “The state does not produce export-quality roses, which is why we cannot cater to the market abroad. But we don’t want to let go an opportunity,” Hazra said.

The panchayat will cultivate the flowers along with the development authority while the food processing and horticulture corporation will offer technical guidance and serve as buyer and exporter.

The government started encouraging flower-farming in December and flowers were flown to Sharjah, Dubai and Bahrain, apart from Holland and England. “We have exported 80,000 flowers worth Rs 8 lakh in the past seven months and received more orders. Our immediate target is to increase exports to Rs 5 lakh per month,” said Hazra.

“Supply of flowers to London was particularly appreciated during Saraswati puja and a large consignment was sent there during a wedding,” said Seal.

The 24-Parganas, the two Midnapores, Darjeeling and Kalimpong are the main centres that cater to the fast-growing market for tuberose, gladioli, cock’s combs and golden rods among others.

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