Flower business booming in Bangladesh

Flower business booming in Bangladesh

Nursery and flower business has rapidly expanded in the capital of Bangladesh as elsewhere in the country over the last two decades, with most demand coming from the middle-class people, businesses and experts said.

The number of plant farms supplying both horticultural and floricultural plants was minimal in the 1990s, which has increased to 10,200 today, while annual sales jumped from Tk 250 million to Tk 20 billion today, industry data shows.

Horticulture comprises fruits, wood, vegetables and medicinal plants while floriculture covers flowers and ornamental plants.

According to the Bangladesh Plant Nursery Man Society (BPNMS), a platform of the country’s nurseries, nearly 0.2 million people are directly involved in nurseries and 0.15 million farmers are now engaged in commercial horticulture and floriculture business.

The 10,200 nurseries and flower-foliage trade or export have directly or indirectly employed nearly 0.6 million people in the country, BPNMS data shows.

Md Rafiqul Hasan, deputy director at Horticulture Wing under the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said commercial floriculture has expanded to 8,500 hectares of land in 2014, which was less than 200 hectares in the 90s.

Flower and foliage farming has expanded into Jessore, Jhenidah, Magura, Rangpur, Bogra, Dhaka, Gazipur and Manikganj districts, he said.

The government had no specific policy on floriculture earlier, but the National Nursery Guideline 2008, initiated by the ministry of agriculture, gave a space of flower and ornamental plants, Mr. Hasan said.

The guideline specified flowers, ornamental plants as ‘horticulture crops’, he added.

A meteoric rise in demand in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Narayanganj and Gazipur cities as well as Savar encouraged people to invest in nursery and flower business in the 90s, said Dr Shaikh Abdur Sabur, an agribusiness and marketing professor at Bangladesh Agricultural University.

An official working at the Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation (BFIDC) told the FE that implementation of afforestation projects by the government and NGOs from early the 1990s helped the nursery business expand.

He said annual demand for saplings (including horticultural and floricultural) rose to more than 45 million pieces now thanks to such projects.

Md Shaiful Islam, president of National Nursery Society of Bangladesh (NNSB), a platform of the country’s nursery related associations, said earlier flower corners were only in city’s Shahbagh, Dhanmondi, Farmgate, Nawabbari Road, Banani Kamal Ataturk Avenue and Gulshan areas.

“Now you can get flowers almost at every point in the city. There are more than 450 flower shops in the capital,” he said, adding that most of the people decorate their rooms with flowers or many have flower pots at their balconies or rooftops.

MA Siddiqi Bulbul, director of Kingshukh Green House, one of the leading nurseries in the country, said as per their estimation, a person in Dhaka city expends at least Tk 60 annually for buying cut flowers, decorative plants, vegetables or fruit plants.

“Our research shows the turnover of the nurseries and flower traders in Dhaka city is above Tk 1.82 billion a year,” said Mr Bulbul, also secretary of NNSB.

A good number of nurseries have mushroomed in Dhaka’s Agargaon, High Court, Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, Mohammadpur and Beribadh area adjacent to Hazaribagh, Rayer Bazar, Kamrangir Char, Nowabganjbazar.

Apart from decorating rooms or presenting gifts to near and dear ones, flowers and decorative plants are used on many occasions such as marriage, birthday, corporate programmes, trade fairs or government programmes.

Fruits and vegetable farming on rooftops is also gaining ground in cities like Dhaka and Chittagong for scarcity of land, Mr Manik said, adding that apart from flower shops, there are 500 small and medium-size nurseries in Dhaka city now.

M. Ahsan Ullah, president of Bangladesh Flower Growers and Exporters Association, said the country exports flowers and foliage worth nearly Tk 2.0 billion annually.

However, flower farmers, traders and nursery owners are counting huge losses due to the current political turmoil, but in normal days they used to earn handsome profits, said sector players in the city.

Md Abdul Hamid, owner of Desh Nursery at Doyel Chattar adjacent to the High Court, told the FE that he started doing nursery business with an investment of Tk 5,000 six years back.

However, now he maintains five-member families with money he earns from his nursery business, Mr Hamid said.

November-February is peak time for selling flower plants while they sell other ornamental plants like bonsai, stardust, several kinds of ferns, orchids, cactus, cycas, fruit and vegetables plants round the year, he said.

Md Billal Hossain, owner of Bristy VIP Full Ghor at Shahbagh, said their daily sale is worth Tk 20,000 during normal days. The turnover of 40 shops in the area is not less than Tk 0.25 million a day if the political situation remains stable.

Mr Bulbul, secretary of NNSB, said flower and ornamental plant growers and traders pay tax doubly, which should be removed. The government has banned poly bags for nursery owners, but doesn’t give any suitable alternative, he added.

BNMS President Md Abul Kalam Azad said the sector should get facilities like agro-based industry and the government should provide loans at single digit interest rate for expansion of the sector.

The country’s nurseries sell nearly 45 million pieces of saplings annually. Of them, 20 per cent is flower and ornamental which was less than 2 per cent two decades back, BFIDC data reveals.

Bron: The Financial Express Bangladesh