Delwar Hossain started a flower business at his house in Sreepur, Gazipur in 2004 with just Tk4,000. In 17 years, he has turned it into a Tk3 crore business.
Delwar's Moumita Nursery has also grown in size as he has added vegetables and fruits to his big catalogue of flowers.
And, besides spending time in his gardens, he gives free training to his customers who buy flower and vegetable saplings from his nursery. He says he has helped about 400 flower growers across the country.
But Delwar's journey was not smooth.
"I started floriculture as a profession after passing SSC in 2004. In the beginning, I faced many problems but I never gave up. I tried to do something better," Delwar Hossain told The Business Standard.
He has been cultivating three-colour Oriental Lilium flowers in his 21-bigha nursery for three years with bulbs collected from the Netherlands.
He said he sells each Lilium for Tk90 to Tk100. He earns about Tk50 lakh from Lilium in six months every season.
He has also started the cultivation of different vegetables and fruits.
"I started cultivating strawberries, capsicum and banana along with flowers. The yield of a new variety of banana will come in a few days. There are also plans to export this banana abroad," he said.
In 2019, he started cultivating strawberries on one acre of land bringing mother plants from the USA. He produced about 12,000 kg of strawberries on this land at a cost of only Tk12 lakh. Its market value is about Tk36 lakh.
Delwar said he wants to produce improved varieties of strawberries and export them abroad.
"We were ready to export strawberries to a few countries this year, including Dubai. But it did not happen due to the pandemic. We will be able to export improved varieties of roses, strawberries and bananas to several countries in Europe and the Middle East in the next 2-3 years. We have work worth about Tk5 crore in the pipeline," he said.
In 2019, he started cultivated capsicums by collecting seeds from a Dutch seed company named Rich One. Now, his farm grows red, green and yellow capsicums.
He said it is possible to grow about 24,000 kg of capsicum per acre. The price of capsicum is Tk100 per kg.
Some 22 workers work on Delwar's farm. He said he has to pay around Tk2.75 lakh per month to pay the workers.
"They do all the work. We also hire workers who work on a daily basis," said Delwar.
Many farmers are also being inspired by Delwar. "12 farmers learn to cultivate international standard strawberries and 30 farmers cultivate capsicum from me," he said.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic affected his business badly as flowers worth several lakhs of taka, including lilies worth Tk12lakh, were unsold. He said it would take two years to recover the losses incurred due to the pandemic.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute Director (Research) Md Tariqul Islam told The Business Standard, "Delwar's love for floriculture and florists has inspired many farmers. The demand for flowers is constantly increasing in the country and at the same time we are researching to bring success in cultivating new varieties of flowers."
"It is possible to achieve success in exporting flowers by maintaining international standards in the future," he added.
A pioneer in tulip cultivation
Delwar Hossain is the first farmer in the country to cultivate tulips. For the last two years, he has been experimentally cultivating tulip bulbs brought from the Netherlands.
He brought the first 1000 bulbs in 2019 and was able to get flowers from 95% of the trees. In 2020, he brought 20,000 bulbs from the Netherlands. He cultivated 14,000 bulbs and provided the rest to two other farmers. About 90% of the bulbs bloomed. However, he did not sell the flowers as he cultivated them as an experiment.
Tulip is a flower of the countries of cold weather. It needs a temperature of 10-15 degree Celsius. However, Delower Hossain cultivates tulips in the temperature of the country. He said that he will start cultivating tulips commercially within one or two years and the process of export is also underway.
"Tulip is being imported in Bangladesh as there is a demand for this flower here. Our success in tulip cultivation is showing hope to the flower growers. I have used high agricultural technology to make this flower bloom. The flowers should be cultivated under a shed where the heat and sunlight are controlled specially," said Delwar.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute Director (Research) Md Tariqul Islam said, "The potential that Delwar is showing by cultivating tulips in the climate of Bangladesh will be a source of inspiration for many flower growers. We have the opportunity to earn foreign money by producing tulips commercially."