Can a Young man of the decades of late seventies & early eighties remember the flower market in Dhaka? I think most of the young people of that time feel it not tough to remember. That time there were only few places where flowers were sold in this capital city. But that market was not like the present flowers shops in Dhaka and other cities. So far I remember the Majar gate of High court was the only place of flowers shopping in Dhaka. Some people would sit there on the road side and try to sell their flowers. Maybe, there were few more places in and around Gulshan area that time. But the flower selling place at the gate of High court was known to all. The standard of flower bouquets was not perfect like present time. The sellers just brought flowers sticks and used to sell those as flowers bouquet. Not many types of flowers were sold there, only 2/3 types of flowers were sold and those were rose, marigold, tuberose etc. The market of flowers was not that much flourished like present time. But some people took flowers selling as their profession.
The people of Dhaka were very much used to decorate their bridal car with paper flowers. Paper flowers and other such type of items were available in the New Elephant road’s different bridal shops. People were not that much familiar with Ikebana. Even common people were used to decorate the bride/ bridegrooms’ cars with paper flowers & items. But since the early eighties a big change happened and flower markets started flourishing very fast. By this time Bengali New Year celebrations went to the momentum. The ‘Mongol Shobhajatra’ and big procession had become a big tradition in Bengali New Year’s celebrations. People joined this procession with flowers, flowers bouquets and masks of different animals, traditional musical instrument etc. As a result of this the demand of flowers had gone upward. Moreover, Victory day, 21st February, ‘Basnta Utshab’ were also the big attractions of flower business. New shops of flowers were set up in different places of Dhaka city. In this context Shahbagh flower market played a very big role. Many flower shops were set up in a short span of time at Shahbagh area. Following Shabagh a big number of flower shops were also set up in different cities & towns in Bangladesh.
Now it has flourished so much that one can find flower shops almost in every important towns in Bangladesh. And a huge number of people are now engaged in flower business, cultivation & carrying. Flowers are used presently in all the state functions, cultural functions, office programs, birthdays, meetings, marriage ceremonies, salutations and many more. So, flower has become one of the essential components of present day social life.
The main flower producing area in Bangladesh is Godkhali at Jashore. This is on the way to Benapole under Jhikorgacha Upazila. One can see the huge flowers fields in that area. There hundreds of acre land are now under flower cultivation. Many kinds of flowers are produced there. Different kind of roses, marigolds, tuberoses, gladiolus, sunflower, calendula and many other native and foreign varieties of flowers are produced there. In addition, Kaliganj of Jhenidha, Savar, Gazipur, Narayanganj are also big flower cultivation areas in Bangladesh. Besides those areas, flowers are now produced in many other places in Bangladesh. But it seems that there is lack of institutional support visible in flower cultivation from the agriculturmral department.
The farmers of Jashore, Jhenidha and Savar are the prime suppliers of flowers in the markets of Dhaka and other big cities. As the demand of fresh flowers increasing day by day, the volume of flower cultivation attracts farmers gradually. The agricultural department and commercial banks should come forward to provide support to the marginal flowers farmers. Agricultural department can provide technical support and Banks can provide short-term loans to the farmers. This is comparatively a new endeavor of diversification of agriculture in our country. So for this reason institutional support will be very much helpful for these initiatives.
We know many countries of the world are now flower exporters. Especially, West European countries are the main flowers exporters in the world. Netherlands is one of the big flowers exporters in the world. Flower cultivation, marketing are very big business there. According to the Google data, currently the main flower bouquets exporting countries are Netherlands, Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia & Belgium. Beyond this list there are many other countries now exporting flowers and flowers bouquets. So, providing technical support and using developed technology we can also improve flower cultivation, processing and marketing for home and abroad. Presently, billions of dollars is the size of international flower market. We should also try to make our own space in international flowers market. Eyeing to the international market our entire endeavor should be fixed on exporting flowers to the foreign countries.
Since the decade of nineties of last century Valentine Day is being observed in Bangladesh with huge enthusiasms. Before that only few people would know about Valentine in our country. Now Valentine has become a big enjoyment in our society & country. Over the years with this enjoyment the use of flowers & flower bouquets have been increased manifold. Now in different national days the uses of flowers and flower bouquets have also been increased. And the size of our flower market has become huge gradually. Without flower no decoration makes any sense and it appears to be incomplete. In our daily life, state functions, formal meetings, cultural functions, bridal functions, flower is the very important component. So for the increasing importance of flower, now is the time to take special care of flower cultivation, processing & carrying to the market. Agriculture department, banks should rethink about the bright prospect of flowers cultivation in our country. Many countries of the world export flowers and flower bouquets and they earn a considerable amount of foreign exchange. Bangladesh can also be the flower exporting country within a short span of time if some tangible steps taken by the authorities concerned. Last but not the least, the essence/ power of flower is very important in our life and flower has the capacity of making our lives bouncing and lively.
Dr. Syed Nesar Ahmad Rumy, Retired Civil Servant, Dhaka