Covid-19 wilts sales, Amphan flattens flowers of Jessore

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An estimate suggests that flower cultivators and traders in the region have counted losses to the tune of Tk300 crore in the past 5 months

For Imran Hossain, April-May is usually a time of hard labour and celebration. However, 2020 is a year of distress for this young flower grower as well as several other flower cultivators of Jessore’s Godkhali.

It was actually a double whammy for flower cultivators – first, their businesses were hit by the Covid-19 lockdown and then, cyclone Amphan flattened their produce, and with it, all their hopes.

An estimate suggests that flower cultivators and traders in the region have counted losses to the tune of Tk300 crore in the past 5 months.

“I spent over Tk10 lakh in cultivating Gerbera on 2.5 bighas of land and China Rose on two bighas last year. But I could not sell my produce due to the lockdown restrictions. Then, Amphan destroyed all my produce. I have no money to start my business afresh,” says Imran.

Although he has been in the floriculture business for over 5 years now, Imran says: “The amount of loss I suffered this season is unimaginable.”

According to Bangladesh Flower Society sources, hundreds of flower growers from Panisara visit the Gadkhali market every day. Small and big wholesalers from different parts of the country also buy flowers from there. But this year, the lockdown and the cyclone took the fragrance out of the flowers.

“Many flower cultivators in this region are in a similar situation. Many of us have been forced to destroy our produce due to closure of markets and low demand for the flowers. Only government support can now help us recover from this deep financial crisis,” he asserts.

According to sources, flowers worth Tk300 crore are produced in this region every year. But this year, Gadkhali has come to a standstill, leaving many flower farmers devastated. To overcome the crisis, many farmers have taken to farming paddy and other crops on their land.

Sajeda Begum, who took over the family business in 2004 after her husband Imamul Hossain had fallen ill, says the lockdown and the cyclone have left her family devastated. “It’s now a question of survival,” she adds.

President of Bangladesh Flower Society Abdur Rahim says that 80% of the country’s demand for flowers is met from Jessore.

“Due to Covid-19, farmers could not sell flowers in the past five months and this year, flowers worth Tk450 crore have been wasted across the country. Of this, only Jessore region has suffered a loss of Tk300 crore,” he claims, adding: “Flower cultivators and traders in the region are in dire straits.

“There are about 10,000 flower growers in the Jessore region in the crisis. Agricultural incentives of Tk500 crore are needed to make up for the irreparable damage caused to the sector by coronavirus and Amphan,” Rahim says.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Tamizul Islam Khan said, “The government has taken various initiatives to ensure that no farmer quits the sector due to losses. The list of victims has already been prepared and sent to the ministry concerned.”

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