'This year around 24 varieties of flowers have been cultivated on more than 155 hectares in the district'
With the onset of spring, beautiful flowers like roses, marigold, tuberose, chrysanthemum, dalia, and white ginger lily are blooming in Shabdi village of Narayanganj, where thousands of people visit each day to admire nature at its finest.
On a visit to the area, this correspondent saw Gardenia (Kathmaloti) blooming across the roadsides and that with boundless flower fields, Shabdi in Kolagathia union of Bandar upazila has become a kingdom of colours.
In this free market economy, cultivation of flower has become a source of income for at least 15,000 men and women in Kolagathia. More and more people are becoming interested as flower cultivation occupies more than 155 hectares in the district, say Bandar upazila agriculture office.
Aside from Shabdi, flowers are being cultivated in Digholdi, Shelsardi, Madhabpasha, Aichtala, Shambhupura union of Sonargaon upazila, and Masumabad and Bholabo of Rupganj upazila.
Narayanganj Department of Agricultural Extension Deputy Director Dr Golam Mostafa said: "This year around 24 varieties of flowers have been cultivated on more than 155 hectares in the district. We are training farmers to tackle various plant diseases and get better crops. Flower cultivation has massive potential for earning foreign currency."
Tauhid Hossain, general secretary of a cooperative association for flower businessmen, said: "In order for flower business to flourish, I urge the government to stop the import of artificial flowers from China. With smoother operations we can export flowers to other countries."
Jakir Hossain, owner of the largest flower garden in Shabdi, said: "I cultivate flowers of various types throughout the whole year and turn a good profit. However, there is a lack of quality seeds, seedlings, research laboratories for tissue culture, and facilities for loans on low interest.
"There are no proper storage facilities or any efficient marketing strategies. If these obstacles are removed, more people will be eager to cultivate flowers," he added.
Shudheb Chandra Das was the first to start cultivating flowers in Shabdi which inspired other unemployed individuals like him to join.
Rahmatullah, a flower farmer, said: "Flowers are in high demand all over the country, especially on Pahela Falgun, Valentine's day, Pahela Baishakh, February 21, March 26, and December 16."
Narayanganj 5 MP Salim Osman while overseeing the development work of a temple in Dighaldi, disclosed his plans to transform Shabdi into a tourist spot.
“With abundance of flowers and Brahmaputra flowing by its side, Shabdi is already attracting people's attention. To make Shabdi a tourist spot I urge people stand up against illegal land grabbing,” he said.