Ramesh, a young entrepreneur has inspiring tales for unskilled and uneducated youth of urban and suburban settlements to initiate a venture without investing a single penny.
He has a pushcart, which too is provided by a nursery owner to run the business. He takes earthen pots with a variety of flowering plants from nurseries and moves daily to city streets for sale.
He has five years experience of wandering in the streets of Hyderabad city to sell flowering plants.
According to him, all his family members have been associated with nurseries for a long time, mostly grow plants and taking care of them. They work together at a commercial nursery located near their settlement and stay there from dawn to dusk. This nursery is said to be a warehouse, where they grow new plants and then shift to the outlets, which exist somewhere in the city.
The nursery and garden industry provides jobs to a large number of workforce in different categories, including cultivators, caretakers, and marketers.
The job of this family is to fill tiny plastic bags with sand, transplant a seed into it, provide water twice--thrice a day, and keep the environment clean.
“It is my day-long routine. I take 80-100 selected flower plants on a pushcart, mostly with blossoming roses, which attract household women clients. I leave the nursery for selling scented products by wandering from one street to another the whole day,” he said.
The price of items ranges from Rs20 to Rs500 or more, depending on its market value.
In his understanding, many families in the city neighbourhoods love flowering plants and buy them eagerly for decorating their houses.
“This is a safe business, without investing any amount, and I earn a little daily to contribute to my family,” Ramesh said.
Another young florist, Suresh has a similar story, but a wider one, as he travels to neighbouring cities, towns, and newly developing housing schemes, convincing administrators and households to buy flowering plants, trees with medicinal value, and many items for developing small-scale kitchen gardens.
“I have different target of customers, residing distantly where nurseries are not accessible for them,” he explained.
“We do not invest on this business, and take items from nurseries to pay their cost after sales on daily or weekly basis,” he said. “There is no risk in this trade. It is a trust game; we play honestly to run the business smoothly.”
Families of these young florists have been settled in the city suburbs for generations. They themselves operate their business by travelling short distances to reach nurseries and select flowers for sale.
The entrepreneurs know which plants can attract their potential clients and have value. Presently, besides neem, moringa and other common roses and forest tree species, people want to plant palm and bougainvillea plants, which they place for indoor and outdoor beautification.
Nursery and garden industry is flourishing in urban and suburban settlements. The problem they face is marketing of flowers. These young uneducated and unskilled traders could be helpful for them. Some flower gardens are located at different irrigation canals flowing from the cities and towns, because water is an essential resource for these nurseries.
Elderly workers at nurseries believe “these flowering plants need care like babies. After working and dealing with these plants, we know how much feed and water these plants need”. They make such feed through river-bed sand, compost, farmyard manure, green manure and water, which they arrange through different sources.
These workers take names of hundreds of plants they deal with daily like a variety of ornamental flowers, cherry blossom, contra costa goldfields, Kachnar, Gul-e-nishter, Amaltas, sukhchain, palm and bougainvillea, herbs, fruits and common flowering plants.
Arjun Kumar, a professional engineer has expanded his work to provide services to newly emerging housing schemes for developing landscapes. He travels to different housing schemes to guide gardeners and staffers there for landscaping and beautifying the places.
He believes that nursery management can be a better option for youth to initiate business without investing a single penny. “I have developed relationship with different nurseries. I buy plants in bulk and sell the same to different housing schemes and individuals.”
About buying various seeds, he said, “I go to different shops of pansary (retailers of herbal items, seeds, eaves and roots) to buy seeds of plants, which either have depleted completely in Sindh or seem hard to find. This exercise made me keyed up to provide seeds of such valuable herbal plants, which have potential market,” he added.
Prof Ismail Kumbhar of Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam, who himself had developed a nursery some years back and frequently facilitates trainings for youth on entrepreneurship, lauds the role of these young unskilled and uneducated cadre in private enterprise and suggests the government to provide small-scale loans for them, so they may expand their work.
Citing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led intervention, Prof Kumbhar said now Prime Minister Imran Khan himself talks about protecting forests and stop further environmental degradation. Under his directives, the government has already launched tree plantation campaign in urban areas in the country. This is the time to encourage potential young cadre in urban and rural areas, who themselves are already contributing a lot by supplying plants street to street and house to house. “The better way to appreciate them is to offer small-scale loan for this business,” he added.
Besides, public and private sector institutions, people themselves can be seen excited when planting trees at their houses and decorating their living places with flowers.
This, in fact is an inspiring contribution of urban people. This trend must be promoted to rural areas, where existing trees are being cleaned by certain people.
Altaf Mahesar, who has established a nursery spread over three-acre land, claims to have indigenous plants, including banyan tree, which may not be available at any other nursery.
“Banyan and other indigenous trees have a huge root system, which can store more rain water. These indigenous trees must be planted in a mega tree plantation drive. He believes that every tree has the capability to balance groundwater level through the root system.
“We offer grown seasonal vegetables with guiding sheet to people, specially household women, who are interested to develop rooftop gardens to have self-grown/ organic food stuff for their consumption,” he said.
Mahesar said now when the PTI-led government has launched tree plantation drive, they must encourage native species.
The young flower traders believe that nurseries provide a quality choice for people, who always seem looking for plant supplies, as well as those landscaping workers to make their houses and sites beautiful.
The writer is a staff member