By Adeel Saeed

PESHAWAR, May 29 (APP): Like other businesses and commercial activities in the country, the preventive measure of lockdown against the spread of deadly coronavirus has also affected flower dealers in the `City of Flowers’.
Apart from damaging public health, the virus has also impacted business activities by affecting almost every sector from industries to tourism and shopkeepers to daily wagers.
The ongoing situation has also affected the flower grower in rural settlements and business dealers in main commercial hubs. They have suffered huge financial losses due to commercial halt caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Historically, Peshawar was termed as `City of Flowers’ by the first Mughal Emperor Baber in his memoir due to large quantity of flowers grown in the city.
However, with growing population, the areas of flowers were converted into cemented buildings of commercial and residential areas. Thus the entire landscape of the historic city has undergone a drastic change.
A number of flower growers in Bazikhel area in the outskirts of Peshawar whose dependence is on flowers business have been faced with tough times due to the ongoing situation of lockdown.
Talking to APP, a flower grower and resident of Bazidkhel area Zahirullah Ahmadkhel said, “Due to lockdown, our spring season, the most profit generating period, has gone wasted and thousands of fully grown colorful flowers were destroyed with tears in our eyes.” He said that in Bazidkhel only, a community comprising of around 500 houses were fully engaged in flower growing and selling business.
Ahmadkhel said, “These community members grow flowers over an area of around 1000 to 1200 acres of land, some earn through wages over performing as labor during sowing and plucking, some arranges water, some make garlands of it and some sell in the market.” He said that people associated with flower growing business have attached all their expectations with it as this business gives profit on seasonal basis.”
The flower grower said the spring season was more important because of handsome earning from flower business.
He said that majority of the growers wait for it to arrange family functions like marriages of children, arranging dowry for daughters etc. “The coronavirus lockdown has not only inflicted financial losses on us but also shattered all our programs planned for current calendar year”, he lamented.
Almost every landowner has suffered losses in hundreds of thousands of rupees on sowing of flowers as one acre land needs an investment of around Rs. 20 to 30 thousands. The earning from the investment after maturity of flowers was about two to three hundred thousand. There were hundreds of acres of land on which investment was made which has gone wasted without getting a single penny return.
Muhammad Ishfaq, a flower grower and another resident of Bazidkhel said, “Due to lockdown and closure of shops, we could not receive any order from dealers in main markets of Peshawar”. He said that during routine days, especially in spring season, the market dealers start visiting flower fields and make advance booking for colourful flowers. “But, this year, no one has visited our village and all the grown flowers were wasted”, he added.
Ishfaq said that the growers grow different verities of flowers. But in spring season, rose was the main attraction of people and dealers. He said that female residents of the village also earn through flower growing business by preparing different kinds of garlands and bracelets of beautiful flowers, but they have also faced losses this year.
He urged the government to take notice of losses being faced by flower growers and announce a relief package for them. He said that the new season has started which needed three months to mature flowers after which the growers would be able to make some earning.
Salauddin, a flower seller in Qissa Khawani bazar said that due to lockdown the flower shops have remained closed. Therefore, the government should give some relief to the affected families, especially those whose main livelihood was associated with flower business, he added.