Flower exports inadequate for lack of variety
Bangladesh is yet to achieve its potential in flower exports as the country is unable to produce sufficient breeds in absence of adequate research and development, according to industry people.
"We need to develop better varieties using advanced technologies to boost flower exports," said Zahir Uddin Md Babar, organising secretary of the Bangladesh Flower Society (BFS).
Babar was speaking at a workshop, styled "Global Flower Market Quality Standards and Challenges for Bangladeshi Florists", at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council in Dhaka yesterday.
Organised by the BFS, the event brought together various stakeholders of the local flower industry to discuss the prospects and challenges of exporting floricultural crops.
Babar informed that about 30 percent of the country's flower production is damaged each year due to the lack of post-harvest technology, such as trucks equipped with temperature-controlled freezers.
The flower market in Bangladesh is currently valued at about Tk 1,500 crore, much of which is met through cloning mother plants imported from countries such as India.
So, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) could play a vital role in addressing this issue by developing local varieties of foreign plants through field experimentation and analysis.
"Improved packaging can also be made available through public and private initiatives," Babar said.
AFM Jamal Uddin, a professor of horticulture at the Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, said there is no alternative to growing new varieties for boosting flower exports.
"If we can develop new varieties, Bangladesh will flourish in this sector," he added.
Md Tajul Islam Patwari, director of field services at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said the amount of land available for flower cultivation is very limited in Bangladesh.
"So, farmers have to cultivate them with proper planning," he added.
Assuring that the DAE would lend support as necessary, Patwari said they have focus on reducing post-harvest losses to boost exports.
However, Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, said focus should first be placed on catering to the domestic market.
"We have a big domestic market and have to utilise it properly. We should move specifically with some select products for export," he added.
Anwar Faruk, former agriculture secretary, said the industry would flourish with private sector investment alongside government support.
Among others, Shri Babul Prasad, president of the BFS, and Farzana Nasrin Khan, principal scientific officer of BARI, also spoke at the event.