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Towards greener pastures:
National Plant Fair 2011

The 2011 edition of the Plant Fair is a much publicised event. Unlike previous years, this year the emphasis has been laid more on the social message of the occasion than the fair itself. Upon entering the vicinity of the fair, observers notice the roads blanketed with social messages urging people to plant more trees and hence leading to a greener Bangladesh.

Pictures of Sundarbans in all her beauty also capture one's attention and one is then drawn towards the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger, furthering the intention to vote for the Sundarbans as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

The very first stall on the right beckons visitors to vote for the Sundarbans. By taking two minutes to fill in details about your name, age and email address, you can easily have played your part for your country. Brochures are also available offering much information about this treasure trove of bio-diversity.

Moving onwards, one can see numerous stalls but also some unique decorations. Exhibits have been created around the fair, showing how more environmentally friendly and greener surroundings can be created in even the most concrete areas.

Plants are displayed to be planted near ponds, houses and even around bridges. Other exhibits show how the city itself can be made greener, with much emphasis laid on collective and individual effort instead of waiting for someone else to take up the responsibility.

Most of the nurseries cater to the roof-top variety of plants. 'Most of our customers don't have the space for their own garden, thus we offer them plants that can easily be planted on their rooftops or their verandahs,' an employee of Poppy Nursery informs when queried.

Guavas and Starfruits are considered to be the easiest plants to rear, but upon searching further one can encounter even more exotic plants. For instance, the Passion Fruit plant made famous in Gaibandha is available here for as little as Tk 200. With a bit of natural fertilisers, water and a little care, this exotic fruit can easily be grown in one's roof-top. That would indeed be the envy of the neighbours.

Mango plants, litchi plants, Indian Pears and Magnifera Indica, although popular, are easily overshadowed by flowering plants such as the ever-popular rose. For those who do have gardens, timber saplings are also available.

Compared to previous years however, sales have been comparatively low. 'We are seeing very few customers this year. Usually it would be impossible to walk around, but now we hardly have any buyers,' Mohammed Shaheen Hossain Rana of Sharupkati Nursery lamented.

He puts it down to the cloudy weather and the hartals. However, the lack of visitors did not result in the fair losing its festive atmosphere. Mahmudul Hassan and Prince, two youngsters from Mirpur-12, claimed to visit the fair every year, perusing the plants on display.

'There is a lot we can learn and it helps to gain an interest in botany,' Prince quipped.

Apart from plants, the fair also offers various publications on the subject. Water-proof trees, spirit collection, pure honey, herbal medicines and various gardening tools are also on sale along with ceramic pots and vases.

Some stalls even sell turtles for those interested in Zen gardening. Bonsai plants are also readily available, with the sellers anxious to pass on information on how to take care of the plants and really benefit from them. Ayesha Mukarramma, Assistant Professor of Government V.M. College, Manikganj said she appreciated this kind of initiative and admitted that the knowledgeable sellers helped her to gain more interest in the types of plants she was purchasing.

All in all, the Plant Fair has more to offer than one may think. Along with plants with price ranges of Tk 150-Tk 3000 and above, there are numerous natural remedies for many ailments and even free doctors' consultations.

If you haven't yet visited the fair, it's time to do so now. The fair ends at the end of June. Head off to Agargaon, right next to Bangabandhu International Conference Centre to support the green movement.

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

   
 

 

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