Known as the carnation belt of India, Meghalaya is a treat for the eyes. Firstly, as you’d know if you’ve been reading our blog, the landscape is truly unique. Numerous pretty caves, waterfalls, lakes and forests can be found in abundance throughout this hilly state; which is also famous as being the wettest and rainiest place in the planet. Secondly, the people of the state are truly charming, mostly consisting of indigenous tribes who have now converted to Christianity but who yet retain many of their ancestral aspects. But a lesser known charm about Meghalaya is that it is where the best carnation flowers of the world grow.
This was ascertained in the recently conducted International Flower Show which was held in the beautiful Himalayan state of Sikkim; where, carnation flowers from Meghalaya was considered the best in quality in comparison to such flowers from all over the world. The four states that grow carnations in India are Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the West Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. The high quality is mainly attributed to Meghalaya’s rich soil; blessed by extreme rainfall. The other influence behind Meghalaya’s flowers maybe the enthusiastic people. For anyone who has been to Meghalaya, it is not hard to spot houses where colorful flowers occupy the front lawn and the verandah. It is quite a sight, especially in the flowering season when the blooms are varied and at their best.
The District Horticulture Department of West Khasi Hills is the association involved in planting carnations and other flowers in Meghalaya. According to its officer S Kharlukhi, “Though the district has been falling behind in many aspects, carnations and other flowers planted here are famous all over the world. At Nongstoin in the West Khasi Hills, we have been growing carnations in over 2,000 square meters of land, where in each square meter; about 20 carnations can be grown. The main market for the flowers has come from its use in decorations and gifts. Besides carnations, the department also plants 2 tons of strawberry each year. We are now trying to spread awareness among the people about the benefit of growing carnations as it is a very good way to earn a livelihood and will increase the economy of the state.”
A whopping 250,000 pots of carnations were produced last year from Nongstion. They were exported to a diversified profile of countries such as Emirates, Holland, Belgium, Brazil and China. Meanwhile, in hope of a bright future fueled by ‘flower-power’, efforts are on to send these flowers to other countries as well and in return establish a more sustainable lifestyle throughout the region.