Women flower farmers take the center stage at Bangladesh Flower Fest 2017

Lamia Anwar Shama

Flower festivals are celebrated all over the world around the year to promote the national flowers of the countries. Bangladesh jumped on the bandwagon last year with Bangladesh Flower Fest 2016. The fest was organized to acquaint the flower lovers of Bangladesh with the local varieties of flowers, create public awareness around the local flower market and to bring all the flower value chain actors under one platform.

Following the success of last year’s flower fest, this year flower fest was organized at a larger and grander scale and to reach as many flower lovers as possible. Along with promoting the local flowers of Bangladesh, this year the flower fest focused on endorsing and recognizing the efforts of women flower farmers at stimulating growth in flower sector.

One of the barriers to inclusive growth in the sector is the uneven representation of women in the market. Women are involved in almost all levels of flower value chain starting from production to trading to sometimes retailing. But they are not yet exposed to the market as much their male counterparts are. Their only target is to produce/procure the flowers and sell it to the next value chain actor. The men in the house are the ones that actively take part in the flower trading.

However, things have started to change and more women are coming out of their houses to take part in flower business. To use this momentum and make them understand the business context, this year AVC brought flower farmers from Jessore to participate in the fest. The fest gave them the opportunity to directly communicate with the customers which was a first for them. A pavilion featuring stories of these inspiring women was set up at the center that attracted a lot of attention. Being set up at the center, in the three days of the fest the women farmers became the stars of the flower fest. People were even lining up to hear their stories and take photos with them! They also got to understand the customers’ mindset and how innovative and new accessories with flowers can be made to cater to customers’ emerging needs. So, this flower fest sort of acted as a vehicle for the flower farmers to instill in them the idea of how they can expand their business through innovative and value added flower products besides the traditional buying-selling.

***Ms. Lamia Anwar Shama  works with USAID’s Agricultural Value Chains Project  as Marketing and Entrepreneurship Development Associate. She graduated from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), under the University of Dhaka. She is a Mentor and Global Student Ambassador at Thought for Food (TFF) Challenge Program.

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