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Flower sector calls for actions to realise potentials
Munima Sultana

          HOW the flower market has grown has now lost its importance for a discussion in the backdrop of its large-scale success. What started just at the gate of the High Court premises has now expanded throughout the country. But the brilliance of this success is often overshadowed by an inability to sell the entire production of flowers.
Belayet Hossain, owner of Aporajita Floral Shop, faces such a depressing experience three to four days in a week. He said the flower market does not get enough occasions to have entire products sold on a day. Many shops manage excess stocks in different ways, he pointed out.
Belayet, also President of Flower Businessmen Association, said this sector has recorded a satisfactory expansion from growing to the trading level in last two decades following some pragmatic steps. But the current efforts, he said were not enough to continue the growth.
Official said economic value of flowers has encourage a significant number of farmers to twitch over to production of flowers of different types and has created a market of over Tk one billion. Now it has become one of the country's export items.
According to the Agriculture Extension Department, more than 25000 acres of land have been brought under flower cultivation and 1000 business ventures have developed centering this product creating employment opportunities of hundreds of thousands of people. Only in land use, one million people have been employed.
An official said the demand for flower doubles every year and the private sector is getting increasingly involved in flower production.
Abul Khaleque of Mohua Pushpa shop in Bailey Road said flower has a few bumper selling occasions which include the new year's days -- Bangla and Gregorian -- Valentine's days, Eids and Pohela Baishakh. Sale also picks up in the wedding season in winter and spring and on official occasions.
But he said there are periods when the demand for flowers drops significantly. Ramadan is one such example, said Khaleque adding that many peak sale occasions, however, are periodically marred by incidents like a deteriorating law and order situation and economic instability.
Citing the last New Year's day as an example, Belayet said usually daily sale of flowers in his shop stands at Tk 5000 but it went up at least 10 times on that particular occasion.
According to the statistics of Dhaka Phul Babsayee Bohumukhi Kalyan Samabay Samity, on an average 0.2 million gladiolus, 1.0 million roses, 0.5 million tuberoses and 2.0 million Marigolds are put on sale at the Shahbagh wholesale flower market during the peak production seasons.
Although the government claims that the country earned dollar 0.78 million from the export of flower and foliage in 2003-04, but the surplus production of flowers cannot be fully utilised due to the lack of proper policy.
Experts say that policies should include reducing or rebating export administration fees for some specific species, opening up a flower and plant export green passage in border ports and setting up special flower and plant research facilities.
They say flowers market has grown on a global scale and many big flower-growing nations like Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa maintain high standards in its production and marketing.
A complete and efficient marketing system should be developed to enhance our competitiveness in the international market, experts opined while asserting that there is need to set up technology development and market promotion systems including upgraded logistics, pooling financial investment to help planters upgrade facilities to the international standard and lowering air freight.
Belayet who turned into owner from salesman like many other flower shop owners, however believes that development of flowers preservative locally can help them in overcoming the surplus problems. He said different kind of products like perfume and Atar could be produced from the surplus products, which would expand marketing facility.
He said still the country's market faces a need for importing flowers like orchid, Zerbera and Calendula which can also be produced in the country on proper planning.
But experts say that flowers take a number of routes to reach users depending on where they are grown and how they are to be sold. For an example, they say some growers cut and pack flowers at their nurseries, send them directly to the users by mail. Some flowers are sent to packaging companies, who grade the flowers and arrange them in bunches for sale in the supermarkets or to deliver by mail. Some flowers are graded and sleeved by growers and sold to wholesale markets; the wholesalers then sell them on to florists who condition and arrange the flowers for the users.


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