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Tie-up to take hill flowers to Calcutta

Kalimpong, Nov. 19: The Kalimpong Horticulture Society (KHS) is looking at collaborating with the Agri-Horticultural Society of India to market plants produced by its members in eastern India.

The two parties have already held the first round of talks in this regard. If the deal comes through, the Calcutta-based Agri-Horticultural Society of India (AHSI) will allow the KHS to use its huge green house at Alipore. The AHSI, in turn, will have a steady stock of saleable plants throughout the year.

KHS president Miku Fonning said the details of the deal would have to be worked out before putting the final seal on it.

“Once the deal comes through, it will be a win-win situation for both the parties,” he added.

Kalimpong does business worth over Rs 2 crore every year in floriculture that includes domestic sales and exports. Fonning said plants like cactus and orchids, bulbous plants like gladiolus, amaryllis, and indoor houseplants like bromeliads, philodendron species, palms, and ferns that grow in Kalimpong could be marketed from the AHSI facility in Alipore.

“There is a great demand for cactus and orchids in Calcutta, which can easily be met by us,” he added.

A KHS team had participated in the AHSI-organised Indoor houseplant expo, 2008 held in Calcutta from November 13 to 16. Apart from selling some plants, the KHS used the opportunity to highlight the problems and prospects of the floriculture industry in Kalimpong.

Fonning said the major problem is the lack of adequate infrastructure. “In order to maximise the potential of Kalimpong in floriculture, we need to have cold storages and grading facilities. Otherwise, we will continue to be stagnant,” he added.

The KHS president said apart from providing transport subsidy, there was a need to enlarge the plantation area by providing quality-planting material at subsidised rates to interested farmers. The KHS is also looking to set up a floriculture park and an orchid sanctuary in Kalimpong to give boost up the industry.

“The potential Kalimpong has in floriculture is best explained by the fact that high-altitude plants and desert plants grow together here,” he said.

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