Floriculture is a nascent industry in Bangladesh with a short history of flower production or consumption. With a 90% market share, cut flower is easily the dominant component of the industry distantly followed by foliage with 9% market share. The remaining 1% constitutes ornamentals and orchids. Over last two decades, flowers have become an attractive commodity, and farmers are responding well to rapidly increasing areas under flower cultivation. More than 150,000 people are involved in the flower value chain, including its production and trade with more than 3,000 hectares of land under cultivation.
This is where the USAID’s Agricultural Value Chain (AVC) project comes in. The AVC is a five-year project funded by USAID under its Feed the Future initiative to improve the food security scenario in Bangladesh by strengthening agricultural value chains. AVC aims to achieve broad-based economic growth and enhance long-term food security in 20 districts of the Southern Delta of Bangladesh by applying a market systems approach. Agricultural value chains in Bangladesh are typically fragmented and lack investment and inclusion of vulnerable groups. Additionally, Bangladeshi farmers often lack the knowledge or resources to engage in a higher value (more competitive) and more nutritious crop value chains. The AVC project will strengthen agricultural markets systems as well as local capacities. Also, the AVC project will ensure effective gender integration and youth participation.
The geographic focus of AVC for Floriculture is Jessore and Jhenaidah under the Khulna Division.
PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS
Knowledge of good cut flower production practices among producers is weak and limited to several distinct geographic clusters. Planting material is not available in Bangladesh. The capital requirements for several important varieties of flowers, particularly gerbera and roses that require the perennial planting material or shade protection, is higher than for most food crops. Dhaka has no permanent flower market, and the current wholesale locations offer substandard facilities. The viability of international production technologies that adhere more closely to world standards has not been proven in Bangladesh.
AVC’S WORK IN FLORICULTURE
AVC builds the capacity of the actors involved in the flower value chain in the Southern Delta so they are better able to market their products nationwide. AVC also ensures that the income of the targeted groups are enhanced and new jobs are created in the region. There is also new private sector investment along with increased sales at farm level in Sothern Delta.
“MORE THAN 150,000 PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED IN THE FLOWER VALUE CHAIN, INCLUDING ITS PRODUCTION AND TRADE WITH MORE THAN 3,000 HECTARES OF LAND UNDER CULTIVATION.”
AVC, first of all, capitalizes on opportunities to simply expand production to serve the existing mass market’s growing demands. Secondly, the project goes for more strategic interventions that seek to test, develop and bring to commercially scale new flowers and technologies that have the potential to create value for all actors in the value chain.
The flower market system, which is mostly different from the other AVC market systems, is a story of a young system with tremendous untapped potential. It has established solid foundations that would allow the system to be inclusive (i.e., transparent, clear, consistent, and growth-oriented) and responsive to changing consumer patterns, as opposed to a system with a story of long evolved behaviors and tendencies that are rooted within the system, creating barriers to faster, more inclusive growth.
AVC works on three systemic capabilities to root certain behavioral patterns and tendencies that result in inclusive growth. The first is an ability to orient the overall system to listen for, influence when possible and respond when necessary to consumer demand. This systemic capacity revolves around market and branding skills, but also includes wider relational patterns that reach from farmer to consumer and back.
THE FLOWER MARKET SYSTEM, WHICH IS MOSTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER AVC MARKET SYSTEMS, IS A STORY OF A YOUNG SYSTEM WITH TREMENDOUS UNTAPPED POTENTIAL.
The second evolved systemic capacity/characteristic is related to supply chain management and value chain governance norms. AVC caters to the growing market demand for flowers, but behavioral patterns are starting to follow problematic patterns seen in the more mature market systems. For example, the flower system has not demonstrated an ability to adjust or adapt when opportunities and threats present themselves, such as genetic material challenges, quality concerns, post-harvest loss, and an increasingly segmented market. There is a real threat that the wider enabling environment problems will blunt innovation pathways and create perceived barriers that limit effective alliances from forming.
The third systemic capacity that AVC works with is inputs. Some labs have the capacity to develop and deliver improved genetic materials, and there are nurseries which effectively provide commercially viable varieties, but at present, it is unclear if these relational networks will form effectively.
MOSAMMAD SAJEDA BEGUM, A BENEFICIARY OF THE AVC PROJECT:
“My husband used to do small scale flower farming and I used to help him sometimes. Ten years ago, he fell from a tree and broke his back. So I took over the flower business. My name is Mosammad Sajeda Begum and I live in the Southern part of Bangladesh. When I first started farming, I didn’t have a good harvest. I had a lot of difficulties getting in touch with buyers. If the buyers didn’t come to the farm, I would sit by the roadside and wait to see when they would show up with their carts. In our area, there was a training on flower farming. They taught us how to make better quality flowers. And how to cut, store and package them. After using the new techniques, my production has more than doubled. Now I have no problems getting in touch with the buyers. I have an excellent relationship with them. My flowers are taken from my farm to the local market. From the local market, they go to Dhaka. From Dhaka, they go to big stores, where they are sold. From the stores, they are used in big events. From my incomes, I have made repairs to my house. I am paying for my children’s education. I have paid off my loans. Whatever I have learned, I have taught the flower farmers around me as well, so that they can also farm flowers. My dream is to help my children grow up to be good people. I never thought I would become such a big flower farmer.”
Watch Sajeda’s Story Here
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