Online orchid competition to create awareness

Silapathar: At a time when the country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orchid Society of Assam (OSA) is geared up for a different battle — to create awareness and stop illegal trading of the exotic plants through a national level online competition.

All one has to do is to click a selfie with their orchids and upload it on the official Facebook page, Orchidophiles, with address details and stand a chance to win Rs 10,000, Rs 7,000 and Rs 5,000 as top three prizes.

The idea occurred to the OSA after their bid to organise the state’s first ever orchid festival during Bihu in April had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Boasting the second-highest number of orchid species in India behind Arunachal Pradesh, Assam accounts for about 400 species and most of them are classified as wild and engendered.

“There is a lot of illegal trade going on and unless there’s a concrete effort, we will lose all our species slowly. It’s difficult to stop the menace directly so we want to create awareness and save our state’s orchids,” secretary of OSA Mithu Gogoi told PTI.

“Northeast accounts for more than 70 per cent species in India. It’s a property of the Northeast and Arunachal Pradesh alone has 580 species approximately. I’m sure this will raise awareness among the orchid lovers of the country and discourage illegal trading which has been on the rise,” he added.

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The last date to upload the entries is June 30, while a five-member jury will announce the top three winners on July 5.

Orchid Society of Assam was formed in December 2018 at the Silapathar Science College in a small town in the Dhemaji district in upper Assam, just six kilometres off Arunachal Pradesh to conserve the state flower ‘kopou phool’ (Rhynchostylis Retusa or the foxtail orchid).

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