Flower traders have yet to cope with the fallout of the first wave of the novel coronavirus as a second wave threatens
Although the pandemic-hit economy has started to turn around, the country's flower traders have yet to see their businesses thrive again.
Flower sales have plummeted as various social functions, including weddings and corporate events, have declined.
Talking to a number of florists across the country, it became clear that the country's flower business is still bearing the brunt of pandemic's gloom.
A flower trader, Abdul Alim, owner of Alim Pushpa Bitan in Shahbag, Dhaka, told The Business Standard, "Before Covid-19, I used to sell flowers worth Tk15,000-Tk20,000; this has dropped to Tk4,000-Tk5,000."
Many flowers are rotting in the fields due to lack of demand, he added.
According to the Bangladesh Flower Society, an association of flower traders, the country's flower market is worth around Tk1,500 crore.
The florists claimed that they have incurred a net loss of Tk400 crore due to Covid-19.
Sources said flowers are now being cultivated on about 6,000 hectares of land in about 23 districts across the country. However, most of the flowers come from Jhikargachha and the surrounding areas of Jashore.
The market has high demand for nightshade, rose, gerbera, marigold, gladiolus, gypsy, rodstick, calendula, and chrysanthemum flowers. The roses are the most popular, accounting for about 35% of sales, followed by gladiolus, tuberose and gerbera.
According to the traders' association, there are more than 20,000 flower shops across the country. Of them, 800 are in the capital. Of these, 450 are wholesale and the rest are retail outlets. The main wholesale and retail markets for flowers in the capital are at Shahbag. Another big wholesale market is at Agargaon.
There are 49 retail outlets in Shahbag. Of these, only 13 are now operating.
Shahbagh Small Flower Traders Cooperative Society president Abul Kalam said flower traders have yet to cope with the first wave of the coronavirus. The second wave will make it harder for them to survive.
Dhaka Flower Traders Welfare Multipurpose Cooperative Society president Babul Prasad said only 20% of their business is now running.
He claimed that more than 300 shops in Dhaka city have had to shut permanently.
A commercial florist from Gadkhali in Jashore Aminul Islam said: "I cultivated tuberose, rose, gerbera, marigold and gladiolus flowers on 16 decimals of land. More than 70% of the flowers in the garden have rotted due to Covid-19. I am working at a loss now."
Bangladesh Flower Society president Abdur Rahim told The Business Standard, "We are struggling to survive, and thus, earnestly seeking government support that will help us survive."