Entrepreneur couple Delwar Hossain and Shelly Hossain from Gazipur’s Sreepur upazila had surprised the countrymen by cultivating tulips and you have already read this on The Daily Star, dear readers. Crowds flocked to their farm to see the tulips, while many government officials and even the ministers visited his tulip field. When I first went to their farm at Sreepur’s Kewa village to make a news report on tulip cultivation, I noticed an experiment on lily cultivation was going on in a piece of land, right beside the tulip shed. Delwar said if he becomes successful with lily, he will go in full swing to cultivate the flower extensively. Oriental lily is now spreading its extraordinary beauty at Delwar and Shelly’s flower shed. Not only that, it shows great earning prospect as well. 

Back in 2015, I went to the flower kingdom of The Netherlands. It was a great opportunity to see the country’s remarkable activities in floriculture and flower trade, economic prosperity. FloraHolland is the heart of the flower trade in the world. Over 25 million flowers sold every day at FloraHolland through international auctions. This auction market exports more than half of the flowers the global markets need. Royal Van Zanten of the Netherlands is another leading organization in the world in floriculture development, cultivation and marketing. They not only work in the Netherlands, but also in South Africa, New Zealand and Uganda. The organization has been trading flowers since 1862. 

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The organization, an international nursery of plants and flowers, is famous all over the world and their main trade is to export flower bulb. I looked around and saw their huge works related to flowers. I came to know that the company produced 110 million lily bulbs in 2015. They also produced 50 million tulip bulbs and 20 million different flower bulbs. Royal Van Zanten works with progressive and new concepts. They are developing new varieties of flowers. I saw several lily varieties, being tested at the Royal Van Zanten. They were saying that lilies of different colours have different values in different countries. For example, the demand for yellow lily is higher in Vietnam, pink in Japan and white lily has an impressive 70 percent market in Europe. Our flower entrepreneurs, Delwar and Shelly have a great relationship with Royal Van Zanten. From there, they collected various flower bulbs. And now they are blooming 10,000 oriental lilies after the tulips and showing us the possibility of the flower that has a wonderful fragrance. As soon as you enter the shed, you will find the beautiful fragrance of the lilies. Each lily has a different smell. Let me tell you that when this lily is in the shape of a bulb, it is called Lilium. Delwar says he is the first commercial lily farmer in the country. Starting in 2016, he has now increased his farming area and the couple now have a total of 12 decimals of land where 10,000 oriental lilies are blooming under two different sheds.

Flowers are usually marketed during the bud stage and the cost and profit of cultivating oriental lilies is much higher than the other flowers, Delwar said. So he is significantly increasing the flower cultivation little by little. Although white, yellow, orange, pink, red and purple lilies are found in the world, Delwar has so far produced only two colours of the flower. Oriental lilies in white and pink. Lily trees are a bit hard and tall like the tuberose. Delwar and Shelly are hoping to sell flowers worth Tk 12 lakh (USD 14150), produced from 12 decimals of land. I was really surprised to hear this from Delwar. He assured with a calm voice, “Oriental lily is the most expensive flower and it has a plenty of demand across the country.” Delwar is selling each stick for Tk 120 to Tk 200 (USD 1.41 to USD 2.36) and in that regard, 10 thousand plants would give him the desired amount of profit. They had to invest Tk 70 (USD 0.83) on each stick. If the cost could have been reduced the profit could go even higher, said Delwar.       

The main cost is related to importing bulbs. Each bulb requires an additional Tk 5 (USD 0.06) as quarantine fee and another 10 percent tax during import. Delwar requested the government to consider the issue and bring down the import cost to a level that everyone can afford. If that happens, customers could buy the flowers at a lower price. Delwar says when he used to sell gerbera flowers at Tk 30 (USD 0.35) each in the past and he didn’t even sold 100 flowers in a day. When the price came down to Tk 5 (USD 0.06), he could sell over 150,000 flowers a day.  

Delwar has already well-understood commercial agriculture. Delwar could conceive the idea that love and passion are required to become successful in farming. Bangladesh has set a unique example around the world for its tremendously overwhelming farming sector. Delwar certainly believes lily has great prospect in Bangladesh and this could bring great profits to many if the government gives their attention to this upcoming booming sector of floriculture. I also believe and would like to convey all that people like Delwar are the pillars of our economy and we must support them more to build a country even stronger and sustainable. 

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