Even after facing numerous interviews for a job, Jafor Alam, son of Juban Mollah of Nabinagar village under Lalpur upazila of Natore district failed to get a job.
Being frustrated with seeking further jobs, he started to cultivate flowers on a commercial basis and finally established himself as a successful entrepreneur. Now, he has employed more than 100 poor women as workers in his garden.
However, the continuing lockdown and the Corona pandemic are paying a huge toll on his flower business and now he has been forced to suspend the business. With him, many other entrepreneurs and workers dealing in flowers have turned completely jobless.
Jafor Alam said he started his flower business by being inspired with the story of 'Adu Bhai' and said, Adu Bhai used to fail in the examinations in all the classes but he never gave up. Following his example, he was also unsuccessful in all interviews for the job but never became disappointed. Now, he has rather turned to a job-provider for many. But, the Corona pandemic and the lockdown were dashing his all hopes and successes.
Jafor Alam, the 9th child of his parents, passed Bachelor degree in the year 2000. Jafor was inspired by one of his neighbours Abdul Aziz, a worker in a flower shop in Dhaka to cultivate flowers. Aziz had returned home from his workplace and started to cultivate flowers in a leased land and used to sell those in Dhaka.
Jafor's father gave him three bighas of land for the purpose of flower cultivation. At first he cultivated various kinds of flower plants in this land. After one year, he started to collect flowers from his flower garden and used to make garlands and sold those in the markets.
Jafor said, earlier he used to sell a six feet long flower garland at the rate of taka seven to ten only. But, those are sold to the wholesale flower traders at Tk 20 to 30 per piece according to the size.
Now, Jafor cultivates Belly (Jasmine) flowers in 60 bighas of land. His own land is 10 bighas and he took lease of 50 bighas of land for cultivating flowers.
During every season, (March to November), he produced 10,000 flower-garlands every day and sold those in Dhaka and other districts. Now he sells each six feet long garland for taka five only, still he earns a reasonable profit.
Jafor informed, he spends taka 5,000 to 6,000 per bigha for leasing the land per year. For preparing the seedbed and taking care of the garden, he spends another Tk 5,000 per bigha. Labour cost for stringing garland is one for every six feet. One man (usually woman and child) can string 100 garlands in a day. Considering all costs, Jafor earns taka 100,000 a month during the flowering season and during off season, he earns taka 20,000 to 30,000 a month.
On the other hand, following Zafar's example, Abdul Aziz also took lease 60 bighas of land to cultivate flowers in the area. Now Sukur Ali, Alam, Khairul Islam and many other young people have started flower cultivation at Balitita, Islampur, Garervita and Billmaria of Lalpur upazila and many other villages of Bagatipara upazila with the help and inspiration of Jafor and Aziz.
Of this business not only Jafor or Aziz became self-reliant but also four thousand women and children found a way to generate income. After completing their household works, every woman in the area starts to string garland and to earn an extra income for their families. The flower business remained a successful business for Zafar, Aziz and many others, providing jobs for several thousand marginal women and children.
However, the Corona pandemic and the continuing lockdown are devastating their business. For more than two-year, all the functions in Dhaka have remained suspended. So, now they have no way to sell the flowers.
Aziz said they are now nearly starving. With no other job, several hundred women and children who worked for him are also starving. Jafor said, they were seeking grace from Allah to end the pandemic so that everything is returned to normal again and they can continue their flower business successfully.