Jhenidah flower growers bear the brunt

Hundreds of flower growers in Jhenidah are incurring losses because of transport disruption caused by Covid-19 shutdown.   

They cannot sell flowers to different parts of the country due to lack of buyers and smooth inter-district transportation, said Kripangshu Shekhar Biswas, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Jhenidah.

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He said some 204 hectares of land in six upazilas of the district have been brought under flower cultivation this year.

Farmers said they fell in great trouble due to the ongoing countrywide shutdown. The flower markets in different areas have worn a deserted look since the first day of the shutdown.  On the other hand, the blooming flowers do not last long. Finding no other alternative, many growers have destroyed their flower fields. Most of them have taken loans from different NGOs and banks and they now do not know how they will repay the loan and maintain their families.

While visiting different areas, this correspondent found the growers plucking blooming flowers and throwing those out of the plot. If it is not plucked in time, the plants will die.

Anwar Hossain of Baliadanga village in Kaliganj upazila said he has cultivated marigold, tube roses (rajanigandha) and gladiolus on three bighas of land spending Tk 2 lakh this year. He sold the blooming flowers at Tk one lakh before the shutdown imposed to curb spread of the virus.

Schoolteacher Khalilur Rahman of Shahpur-Ghighati village in the upazila said he cultivated flowers on eight bighas of land at a cost of Tk 5 lakh.

“I started to collect the blooming flowers from the field but in the meantime, coronavirus spread to the country and due to this, the flower markets remain closed. I have taken loan from Sonali Bank. Now I don’t know how I will repay the loan,” said Khalilur.

Sabdul Sheikh of Baliadanga village said he has cultivated flowers on 17 decimals of land this year, but his hope has been shattered due to coronavirus outbreak. He has already damaged his flower gardens due to the ongoing shutdown.

Flower trader Daud Hossain of Ganna Bazar in Sadar upazila said the farmers are in great danger during the harvesting season. If this situation persists for a long time, their misery will know no bound.

The DAE official said as the farmers cannot sell the blooming flowers due to the ongoing countrywide shutdown, they are destroying their fields although this farming plays an important role in the country’s economy.