- Flower market worth around Tk1,500 crore in the country
- 20 lakh people working in this sector facing loss
- Unsold flowers worth Tk1,300 crore have been ruined
The country's flower traders have demanded bank loans with 4% interest to make up the losses inflicted by the ongoing pandemic.
To contain corona infection, people have to maintain social distance now, which has led to closure of various events including family gatherings. Due to the closure, they cannot sell flowers.
They say no sooner had they recovered from the last year's losses than started the second wave of Covid pandemic causing them huge losses. To overcome this loss, they now want a bank loan at 4% interest.
According to Bangladesh Flowers Society, the domestic flower market is worth around Tk1,500 crore. But in March last year, corona virus was detected in the country and the sale of flowers collapsed. Flowers rot in the farmer's field. Somewhere flowers became the food of cattle.
Imamul Hossain, general secretary of the Bangladesh Flowers Society, told The Business Standard that even if the lockdown is lifted, the restrictions on social events will not be lifted quickly. Flowers will not be sold if there is no ceremony. Our flower sales depend on social events. We are in a miserable situation.
Imamul Hossain said flowers worth Tk1,500 crore were sold across the country in the 2019-20 financial year. He said there was no such event from March last year to March this year; whereas our goal at that time was to sell flowers worth more than Tk1,500 crores. We have sold a maximum of Tk250 crore. Flowers worth Tk1,300 crore have been ruined.
People have to maintain social distance due to corona. There is no family event. Imamul Hossain thinks that the sale of flowers will not be like before until life returns to normalcy.
He said bank loans at the rate of 4% are required from flower traders to overcome the losses. In this way they will be able to overcome even a little bit of damage.
Visiting Shahbagh flower market on Sunday, it was seen that three or four flower shops were open. As soon as someone walks by, they are told to buy flowers. Abdul Quddus, a salesman at Fultala Flower Shop, said: "The losses I have counted are beyond description. The store has been kept open to hold on to business. Let people know that flowers are still sold."
Abul Kalam Azad, president of the Flower Traders' Cooperative Society at Battala in Shahbagh, told The Business Standard, "There is no social event, so there is no sale of flowers. An average of Tk10 lakh was sold daily in 51 flower shops at Shahbagh. Now the shop owners and workers are unemployed."
Anwar Hossain, owner of Shanta Pushpa Bitan, has kept his shop closed. He said, "What to do when there is no sale."
Flower traders said that they are struggling to make ends meet, paying salary of employees and store rents. In such a situation, they think that it will be difficult to sustain this sector without the special cooperation of the government.
According to the flower traders' associations, flowers are cultivated in about 23 districts of the country. Notable among them are Jessore, Jhenaidah, Chuadanga, Manikganj, Narayanganj, and Savar in Dhaka. Nightshade, marigold, rose, gladiolus, gerbera flowers are now more cultivated.
Abdul Khaleq has been cultivating flowers since 1986. He is cultivating flowers by leasing land in Savar. He has 15 to 16 employees.
He told The Business Standard, "I have run out of money; but I have not fired any employee. I have been cultivating flowers for so many days that I have become emotionally involved with it.
Abdul Khaleq said, "I cultivate flowers on leased land. If I ask for a loan from the bank, they say, you don't have your own land, why should I give a loan? Arrangements should be made so that we can get loans easily."
Cost of floriculture
Imamul Hossain, general secretary of Bangladesh Flowers Society, said, "It costs a lot to cultivate flowers. Cultivation of nightshade and marigold in one acre of land will cost Tk2 to Tk3 lakhs. To cultivate roses on an acre of land, it will cost Tk7 to Tk8 lakh. To cultivate poly seed on one bigha of land, it will cost Tk10 lakh. Gerbera cultivation costs more.
20 lakh people working in this sector facing losses
Imamul Hossain said that 20 lakh people are directly and indirectly employed on the income of floriculture. They are in trouble now. Farmers, workers, those involved in packaging are all affected.
Imamul Hossain said the farmers have suffered a lot. Last time we asked for a loan at 4% interest under the incentive package announced by the government. We have not yet received that bank loan. We all are in misery.
"The government should provide relief or food aid to the farmers. The spine of our flower growers is broken. What we need most is a bank loan at 4% interest. Bank loans are very important; so that we can turn around and go back to our previous state," he added.
Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Flower Growers and Flower Traders Cooperative Association Limited Secretary Khorsed Alam said there are more than 100 flower shops in Agargaon. Now only 15 are open. Traders are facing losses.
Last year, the government said that the affected traders and farmers will be given loans at 4% interest. But he has not received the loan yet. Now it is difficult to keep the business without a loan.
Observing that flowers are agricultural products; raw and perishable, he said, "It should be kept out of the lockdown, so that the traders do not have any problem in transporting flowers."