Dr. Sadananda Hegde

I was in Manipur last week (4 – 8, April, 2014) to attend the National Symposium on Orchids at ORDC, Manipur. I was one of the lead speakers. Scientists/Orchidologists from various parts of India attended. I felt at home visiting NE region after a long time of about 4-5 years.Visiting ORDC Manipur was like visiting ORDC Tipi in Arunachal Pradesh, as the development taken place here was on the same pattern. One difference is that ORDC Tipi is managed by Government and ORDC Hengbung by an NGO!

Manipur, one of the eight sisters of North East Region of our country is known for its rich biodiversity. It is situated in the Indo Burmese Mega Biodiversity Hot-spot and an extension of Eastern Himalayan floristic elements. One of the important biodiversity elements is ORCHIDS with about 350 species occurring in the State.

Realising the potentials of orchids both for ornamental and medicinal value and the need for conserving these unique group of plants for sustainable use, an Orchid Research & Development Centre has been established in the year 2010 at Hengbung, Senapati District of Manipur under the Foundation for Environment & Economic Development Services (FEEDS), Henbung, with a view to conserve and sustainably develop this bio-resource for supplementing the income of the local people. The R & D program has been supported by the Department of Science & Technology, GOI.

Over the last three years, amazing development has taken place at the centre establishing modern biotech lab with the state of the art hardening unit, a collection of about 285 species of orchids systematically identified and grown, collaborative works with Scientists working in Delhi, Punjab and Nagaland Universities besides NRC Orchids, Sikkim on DNA bar-coding, establishing Ex situ & In situ conservation areas of RET species of Orchids and standardising tissue culture protocols for few species and hybridization works. There are qualified team of Scientists working in the Centre headed by my former colleague Dr. A. N. Rao for the last one year. The man behind the entire program is a local community Head, Mr. Haokblet Kipgen, who is keen to develop orchids for the welfare of local people. His enthusiasm as a local leader for the development of this centre is worth emulating and appreciating.

The symposium recommended sustainable use of indigenous species for developing orchid industry without exploiting the native species and conserving them both in situ and ex situ. It emphasized on transfer of technology in growing and post-harvest handling of commercial orchids to the local farmers/entrepreneurs and develop an orchid based cottage industry similar to that of Thailand. ORDC should take a lead in developing newer hybrids of commerce with modern biotechnological approaches and impart training to the farmers and entrepreneurs in establishing their orchid growing /propagation units.

Following photographs illustrate the good works done at Hengbung, Manipur both in orchid lab & field at Manipur.
Hengbung ORDCHengbung ORDCHengbung ORDCHengbung ORDCHengbung ORDC

Karnataka State also has Western Ghats ranges which are considered as one of the Biodiversity Hot-spots in the world. There are as many as 200 species known to occur. Many of them are endemic requiring conservation measures. Several of them are ornamental and medicinal. Such a bio-resource needs to be sustainably developed adopting modern biotechnological approaches. Therefore, there is a need to establish an Orchid Conservation, Research & Development Centre (OCRDC) in Karnataka also to conserve and develop orchid based floriculture as a supplemental crop both in rural and urban areas. TOSKAR may initiate some action in this regard and take up the matter with the State Government to establish Orchid Industry.