Bangladesh can create jobs and bring in more foreign currency by building an export base for commercial floriculture, one of the country’s leading seed-producing companies has said. Bangladesh currently spends a lot of money importing in-demand flowers that do not grow in the wild naturally, such as Dianthus, Aster, and Matthiola. But now Metal Agro Limited has come forward with a plan to encourage local farmers to grow such exotic flowers alongside native types.
“Bangladesh is a very potent market for flowers, but lacks variety,” Metal Agro’s Senior General Manager, Afzal Hussain, said. “We are aiming to bring exotic breeds into the mix.” The company began its program on April 3 by organizing a field exhibition at its farm at Kauapukur village in Debiganj upazila of Panchagarh district. “The potential of commercial floriculture in this northern region of Bangladesh is very high as the winter season lasts long here compared to other parts of the country,” Heidi Wernett, a US floriculture business development consultant currently working with Metal Agro, said. “I believe Bangladesh will play a leading role in floriculture and export flowers after meeting the ever-growing local demand.” Wernett hopes commercial floriculture will become a prominent industry in the next five years, with Metal Agro working to expand the market for flowers in and outside Bangladesh. The company, in association with USAID, has already acquired 40 acres of land for the commercial cultivation of exotic flowers. Afzal Hussain said: “We have already brought the seeds of various types of flowering plants from Japan. We are also exhibiting almost 120 species of flowers on the trial plots here.”
As well as Dianthus, Aster and Matthiola, the foreign types include Antirrhinum, Salvia and Viola. “We want to spread commercial floriculture around the country,” Afzal said. “If more and more farmers begin cultivating flowers and draw attention of the foreigners, they will come and buy flowers from Bangladesh.” Under the Metal Agro program, seeds and saplings from nine places – Panchagarh, Rangpur, Bogra, Jhenaidah, Barisal, Dhaka, Comilla, Cox’s Bazar and Sylhet – will be distributed to farmers during July and August.
However, many nursery owners and farmers attending the April 3 program in Panchagarh said there were a number of problems obstructing their interest in cultivating flowers of foreign species. These obstacles include a lack of knowledge regarding farming and preservation of these flowers, floriculture and related technology, transport issues, inadequate sales centres and markets, and a lack of cold storages and necessary fertilizers, among others. The farmers, however, said they would be more invested in executing the idea of floriculture if they received the necessary assistance Metal Agro Limited has promised them to overcome these problems.
Metal Seed Managing Director Sadid Jamil said: “Even though there is a huge market for flowers in Bangladesh, which imports flowers mainly from China and Malaysia, we only see flower cultivation in the winter. “Farmers frequently face problems cultivating rice or jute or other agro products. We are trying to make sure that summer floriculture is possible, too, so that farmers in all rural areas around the country will be able to reap profits round-the-year.”