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Mizoram sets up its first Orchid centre to study, preserve orchids

 
Aizawl, Nov 19 (IANS) The Zoramthanga government has set up the Mizoram Orchid Centre, a first of its kind in the entire northeastern region, at cost of Rs 3.9 crore, to study, preserve and propagate endemic and endangered orchids, officials said on Friday.

Officials of the Rural Development Department said that the centre was funded under the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM) and has a fully equipped laboratory for tissue culture, green houses and other related ancillaries.

Mizoram Rural Development Minister, Lalruatkima, inaugurated the centre in Maubuang about 41 km from the capital city Aizawl and said that it would help in preservation and protection of orchid species, some of which are nearly extinct and found only in Mizoram.

With the opening of the centre, the avenues for eco-tourism and rural tourism could also bring in new opportunities for the people in the area, he added.

Member of Mizoram Assembly, Professor F. Lalnunmawia, and a forestry expert, said that orchid cultivation could help boost the economy of the area and hoped that the centre would partner with the locals on this aspect.

As per a statement released by the Mizoram government, the centre would also undertake research in orchids and look into possible employment and revenue generation for villagers in the surrounding areas. The Rural Development Department, which is the implementing agency of the project, would handover the centre to a private organisation - Zoawi Orchids, for maintenance and operation for a period of 3 years.

Inputs from scientists in Sikkin based National Research Centre for Orchids, other orchid experts from the state and Mizoram University were considered taken during the planning of the centre. The statement said that the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Network (BIOCONE), a respected environmental NGO, was engaged in collection of orchid species from across the state for preservation at the centre.

Mizoram has close to 350 species of orchids with new species still being identified. However, developmental projects have ravaged the orchid resources in the state and many have become threatened species with some on the brink of extinction.

Collection of orchids by suspected plant smugglers, which took place rampantly during the last couple of years, has also led to loss of orchid diversity, the statement said adding that fortunately this has been stopped by the efforts of the state's apex NGO - Young Mizo Association under their preservation of biodiversity call.

--IANS
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