SCOPE AND POTENTIALS OF FLOWERS IN PAKISTAN

M.R. CHAUDHRY
Sep 1 - 7, 2008

AESTHETIC APPROACH

It is said that flowers bring people together. Blossoms can fuel a flaming passion, calm a raging jealousy, comfort a living being or earn a living. Presenting a flower or sticking a flower in some one's hair or on a lapel is a romantic and cherished folkway.

Women have more aesthetic sense than men. They prefer to see fragrant and colourful flowers in their full swing in gardens and in their lawns. At times our ladies prefer to use flowers in place of jewelry and ornaments.

In family life buying a garland, a "gajra" or at least a rose for your spouse a day is a wonder gift to harmonize and revive the eternal bonds with your life partner. If that same offer is made to your parents, you must earn good wishes and blessings of your parents in return. The chance is not worth missing for creating better understanding and goodwill and availing a golden chance to be blessed by your elderly parents at such a small cost.

Praising the Creator, who beautified the earth with flowers:

Flowers are no doubt a blessing and bounty of the Kind and Merciful Creator on the earth. They have a heavenly effect on the hearts and minds of those who come in contact with them, by beautifying the surroundings, making them colourful, attractive, elegant and fragrant, enriching and enchanting the beholders. Some flowers are remarkably charming, beautiful and sweet smelling.

PAKISTAN AND FLOWERS:

Pakistan is blessed with some unique places that produce the effects of scenic magic of great magnitude as Kaller Kahar, where peacocks, in large number, flaunt elegantly and gracefully in a rose garden on a small hillside when red rose blooms, blossoms and makes the atmosphere most pleasant, eye catching, superb and full of fragrance. The sight is palpable but not expressible by any stretch of imagination.

The scribe strongly feels that flowers communicate with their fans by means of their secret language the language of love, harmony, freshness, tenderness, delicacy, colour and sweet smell.

Many species of roses, red, white, pink, velvet and tube rose are successfully grown in Pakistan, although tube rose is of foreign region. Local red rose is much more fragrant than any other flower. Jasmine is our "national flower". This flower is available in sufficient quantity during the hot summer months of June, July and August in Pakistan. It miraculously helps softening the effects of scorching heat. Narcissus has its own outlook and unique fragrance. No spring flower is fairer than daffodils and narcissus. "Queen of Night" (Raat ki Raani) is still a strange and wonderful flower, which blooms and blossoms with the passage of night and is in full swing at mid night. Its peculiar pleasing and captivating sweet smell spreads all around at night and encompasses the surroundings with its spell. "Motia" has a marvelously pleasing smell and women are fond of wearing their garlands. The scribe, who once visited the tomb of Khawaja Ghulam Farid at Mithan Kote bought some garlands of "Motia" near the 'mazar'. He felt their form, delicacy and fragrance extremely enchanting.

A flower garden is considered a safe and secluded place by philosophers, poets, sages and saints for their contemplation, meditation and ecstasy. Poets like Wordsworth and Saikh Saadi used to get lot of inspiration from nature, spoke very high of flowers and flower gardens. Shaikh Saadi composed his two well known books: "Gulistan" (flower garden) and "Bostan" (fruit garden).

Some people in the East and West are so fond of flowers that they name their children in the names of flowers for example Miss Rose, Rosy, Lilly, Gul Badan, Yasmin (Jasmine), and Neelofar.

Some phrases and proverb are also used in our every day life like 'flowery statement', 'life is not a bed of roses', 'rosy cheeks' etc.

COMMERCIAL BENEFITS:

Besides romantic, aesthetic and literary delights, there are also commercial benefits of flowers. Now flowers are seen in posh localities of big cities on flower shops. In Lahore flowers are on sale from single to bouquets on every nook and corner of the street, Rates of flowers vary from customer to customer, from locality to locality and from time to time. Trend of people towards flowers has become quite favourable and they have become flower friendly.

Flowers play an important role in our social life at the times of mirth, birth and death. Rose petals and garlands are placed on the graves of our near and dear ones as a token of our love and attachment to the parting souls. Rose water and petals are also showered and sprinkled thereon. Religious functions are solemnized and sanctified by garlanding the participants and sprinkling rose water in religious congregations like "Millads" and "Mahafil - e - Naat Khaani".

Showering of rose petals in marriage parties is meant to entertain and welcome the groom's party (Baarati). Similarly, make-up of the bride is thought to be deficient without the provision of a hair band of flowers. These social and religious trends bring commercial benefits to those involved in flower business.

Extracts and essences of different flowers are used for making attar, scent and for preparing cosmetics. Flavours are used in ice cream, sweet dishes and syrups for making them tasty and delicious.

Pattoki enjoys a legendary name and fame as a famous flower growing area and has one of the biggest clusters of flowers, fruit and decorative plant nurseries in the country. Growing flowers and other plants and selling them is a major and lucrative business in this town, situated in the suburbs of Lahore. This town is famous for this business activity all over the country.

A strange and interesting story is narrated about Pattoki turning out to be a place of flowers, fruit plants and all types of nurseries. As is reported, a migrated family settled here after the partition in 1947. Two brothers set up a small nursery along the road side. A concern started growing with the passage of time. Later when the family multiplied and grew large, it divided the business assets, which resulted in expanding the business and in more nurseries, as a family business. Afterwards more and more people feeling tempted started growing and selling flowers and decorative plants at Pattoki. Now the position is that rose plants grown in Pattoki go to as far off places as Quetta. Rose is planted in Pattoki much more than any other place in the country. There is an area of 100 acres where rose plants have grown at the rate of 80,000 plants per acre.

According to a survey, there are more than 3000 nurseries each on 2 to 3 acres of land. A few years ago there was a flower garden near Saggian Pull, Lahore on the eastern side of the River Ravi, which has now vanished from the scene due to the construction of roads and bypass.

Pakistan has fertile land with almost all types of flowers, fruit and fauna. It is in no way less rich in colourful, beautiful and fragrant flowers than any other land on the earth.

WORLD EXPORT OF FLOWERS:

World trade of flowers and ornamentals has touched 50 billion dollars while their export is around 10 billion dollars with the exclusion of essential oils. The share of cut flowers in the export value is 50 percent while 41 percent is from plants and cut foliage and 9 percent by sale of bulbs. Major importing countries are U.K., Germany, and U.S.A. and they dominate in the Worldwide Floriculture imports. Netherlands tops the nine leading export cut flower countries and its total export of floricultural products is 58 percent. It has been noted that the trade in ornamentals is rising by 10 percent annually.

It is a matter of great concern that Pakistan, which has great potentials and diversified climatic conditions, suitable for developing flower gardens of all types, is not exploiting its potentials to achieve its due share in the international export and earn substantial foreign exchange.

As regards environmental protection, floriculture industry does not in any way threaten the atmosphere - rather it is superlatively environment friendly. Professor Dr. M. Aslam Pervez, Director HIS in his address at a workshop organized on floriculture, landscape and management at Islamabad claimed it an encouraging sign that Pakistan has entered in to the World export market of cut flowers although the remittance was quite nominal. He reiterated that Columbia's achieving 11 percent share in the global cut flower business is an inspiration for Pakistan as we are far ahead of Columbia in human resource development.

SUGGESTIONS:

If we trace back the history of Lahore with particular reference to fruit and flower gardens, Lahore was a city of gardens during the Mughal regime. There are still localities bearing the names of garden like Shahdara Bagh, Shalimar Gardens, Hazoori Bagh and Badami Bagh. Baghbanpura was a locality where gardeners looking after the gardens belonging to Mughal rulers used to live.

The need of the hour is that floriculture may be boosted and popularized with the same old spirit of Mughal regime not only in Lahore but also at suitable places throughout Pakistan, by application of scientific and modern techniques and technologies to get good yield of flowers qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Department of Floriculture, Pakistan Horticultural Export Board, Agriculture University Faisalabad and other Agriculture Universities and Colleges should from time to time arrange flower exhibitions, impart trainings to farmers and interested parties on flower gardening, preparation of value added products from flowers and their marketing within the country and abroad. There is an ample scope for generation of a good number of employment opportunities and poverty alleviation in this field. These aspects are to be discussed at length for which it warrants another article.