No longer in bloom: Urban growth takes its toll on horticulture business

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Sukkur. Novenber 14, 2013. With a number of high-rise buildings mushrooming across the city rapidly, the green spaces allocated to every house have become limited, making it almost impossible for residents to grow flowers and plants.

This has led to a significant decline in the business for nurseries, complained a nursery employee, Muhammad Achar, while talking to The Express Tribune. Earlier, people used to grow various kinds of plants and vegetables in their houses, allowing the horticulture business to bloom but now people residing in apartments do not have enough space for plantations.

There has been a significant decline in the business of nurseries due to rapid urban growth, which has limited the green space allocated to every house.

Residents are opting for a few artificial plants in their drawing rooms due to which our business is on the decline, he admitted. Another factor badly affecting the business is the ever-rising inflation, causing difficulties in making ends meet. Achar works at a nursery established on a plot of the Pakistan International Airlines but he is not paid for this, instead he has to make a living through the sale of saplings of different kinds of flowers and plants.

Meanwhile, the owner of a nursery at Lab-e-Mehran disagreed. Abdul Latif Shaikh, who set up his business on Pakistan Navy land, was of the view that his business was thriving for the past two years. Many houses have been replaced by multi-storey buildings but people living in bungalows still love to plant flowers, he said, adding that people love to grow plants in their houses but do not know how to keep them alive for longer periods.

According to him, saplings are like children as they need extra care and protection. In most of the houses, he said, pets destroy saplings, therefore, it is necessary to keep a close watch till they grow.

Shaikh is selling hundreds of varieties of seasonal flowers and other plants costing between Rs30 and Rs150. In this nursery, he said, they also sell different varieties of Indian Delia, and each sapling is sold between Rs250 and Rs350.

He went on to say that they also sold plants of araucaria, popularly known as the Christmas tree, that cost between Rs800 to Rs1,000 per plant. Recently, he has imported Bonsai plants from China and its life span is 50 years. This plant is grown inside big pots and its height can go up to 20 feet, he said, adding that it could be kept short through regular trimming and it costs Rs150,000.

Shaikh advised residents to spare some time for flowers and plants to make their environment worthy of living. “We are not just selling saplings and plants but also impart expert advice on how to grow them,” said Shaikh.

Maria, a housewife, wanted to grow flowers but, unfortunately, her pet cat destroyed most of them. “I love my cat very much so I sacrificed my love for flowers.” Now, she has bought some artificial plants, she said, admitting that she still misses the scent of fresh flowers.

Ahmed Ali is also a flower lover and has kept many kinds of flowers in his apartment. “We cannot get enough sunlight and air in the apartments, therefore, plants do not grow properly,” he said. His house is still under-construction and once it is completed he plans to grow different kinds of flowers and plants.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th,2013.

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