Cacti of different shapes are growing in flower tubs under a big shed on the rooftop of a two-storey building. Around 1,500 tubs and 4,000 trees are there. Some plants are sowed and some are grafted in tubs.
Growing cacti indoor is a passion for Masuk Alam, a resident of Kumarpara in Rajshahi and an official at the tax collection department of the Rajshahi City Corporation.
Germination of 12,000 seeds was taking place at Masuk's roof.
Two hundred to one thousand seeds are kept in around hundreds of plastic boxes for germination.
For germination, the soil is processed in a special way before the boxes are filled with the soil. The soil is also required to be prepared differently for using in tubs.
He also cultivates the plants on the terrace on his first floor by constructing a shed of brick and cement. Curious passers-by show interest to know what is going on inside the shed.
Masuk grows cacti commercially. He said, "Cacti is cultivated in three stages under the shed. In the first stage, seed germination is done in a small plastic box. If germination of 100 seeds is done in a box, at least 50 plants grow."
"On the second stage, half of the plants are shifted to tubs and the rest is grafted. On the third stage, when the plant grows a bit it is transferred to a big tub."
Usually, cacti grow in three years, but when grafted they grow in one and a half years.
Masuk Alam claims many people in Bangladesh are cultivating cacti but he is the one who is doing it in a large scale.
He brought the seeds from India, Thailand, Australia and the United States. Many people in Bangladesh buy saplings from him and sell elsewhere in the country.
Each cactus seed, smaller than lentils, costs from Tk20 to Tk600.
Although there are three and a half thousand cactus varieties all over the world, Masuk Alam has around 150-200 varieties of cactus.
He sells cacti at low prices. He sells each sapling at Tk50 to Tk200 and plant at Tk100 to Tk30,000. He has three thousand trees for sale
Masuk Alam thinks if one invests Tk2 lakh in growing cacti, he or she will be able to sell these at Tk7lakhs in six months.
He has spent Tk2 lakh in the last one year for buying seeds. In the first stage, he bought seeds at Tk60,000. After the plants grew, he sold some plants at Tk1,20,000. He reinvested the profit.
For the next three years, Masuk has a plan to invest the profit he earns from selling cactus in cacti cultivation.
There are a hundred groups for cactus lovers on Facebook. Masuk is members of 975 groups.
He is the founder and admin of 7,000-member group titled "Bangladesh Cactus Succulent Lovers" with members of 82 countries.
Masuk is a tree lover since childhood. He went to India's Kalimpong and Bhubaneswar in 1997. He visited renowned cactus sheds there. Since then he decided to open a cacti shed in Bangladesh.
He collected some seeds from India and sowed those on the tubs on his roof. Though he had to stop his activity for some time, since last year, he has started cultivating cactus commercially with the help of Mesbah Uddin, a returnee from Thailand.
Masuk said the interest in buying cacti is developing among the educated ones. Besides, the cactus landscape has gained huge popularity among various organisations. Masuk made a cactus landscape in Rajshahi RAB-5 office.