Hit By Cyclone Fani & COVID Pandemic, Odisha’s Orchid Paradise In Ganjam Withering Fast
Berhampur: The Orchid Cluster at Humma in Odisha’s Ganjam district, which had emerged as the largest producer of the Asian climate flower in the entire country, has withered since severe cyclone ‘Fani’ hit the area in 2019.
Located 40 km from Berhampur and 7 km from the National Highway 16, Humma Orchid Cluster had around 20 entrepreneurs producing the flowers in 60,000 square metre of land. The cluster was doing a business of around Rs 2 crore per annum.
But cyclone Fani rendered a major blow to the cluster as it flattened the net houses and the green houses. Almost like a death knell, COVID pandemic in 2020 wiped out the business cycle.
“We were producing 50,000 sticks of orchid flowers a week earlier. But by 2020, we could manage to produce 1,000 sticks in a week,” said Rabindra Nath Patnaik who has been producing orchids in this cluster in 2500 square metre since 2015.
“Orchid is one of the most sought after exotic flowers in the country as it can stay fresh in vase for a month. The plant is grown on a small scale in Goa, Sikkim, Coimbatore and Kaziranga. But the climatic condition is very much favorable in the belt from Chilka to Gopalpur in Ganjam. Orchid requires a tropical climate with a temperature of 16 to 35 degree Celsius and more than 55% humidity throughout the year,” said Rabindra.
Thailand, which tops the list of countries producing orchid, meets about 90% of the demand for the flower in India. Ganjam used to cater to less than 10% demand with the cluster supplying to places including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and others by train and flight services. In India, Bangalore is the largest ‘mandi’ of orchids.
“The wholesale price of each orchid stick in Ganjam was Rs 20 and it was available in the market at Rs 35 to Rs 40 which was the cheapest. Due to its high quality, Ganjam product found place in the orchid world map.
Still reeling under huge losses due to Fani and COVID, the entrepreneurs of Humma orchid cluster are yet to recover. “We are now unable to give regular nutrients to the plants. The production and sale have dropped drastically. We need financial help from the government desperately to return to old days,” said Rabindra.