Flowery Success

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She left a secure government job to wade into unknown waters only to open up career vistas for many in Kashmir. Ibrahim Wani reports

Nusrat Jahan left a government job to start a business in selling flowers.

Nusrat Jahan left a government job to start a business in selling flowers.

When she started out in the year 2000 to establish a business she hardly knew that in a short span of time she would become a role model for budding entrepreneurs.

Nusrat Jahan left a government job to start a business in selling flowers. She not only succeeded in setting up a profitable enterprise but also laid the foundation of an industry which holds a huge promise for employment generation.

Today her firm Petals Agretax operates two floriculture farms. Here she grows flowers for local consumption and export.  A number of other entrepreneurs have taken cue from her and set up successful floriculture businesses. Today Kashmir exports 12 Crores worth of flowers with further potential of huge growth.

In recognition of her work she was awarded the Women Leadership Award in 2009 by the Rotary Club. Recently she was awarded the Tata Stree Shakti Award in Mumbai by the Tata group. The award carries a cash prize of 1 Lac rupees.

The idea of setting up a floriculture business came to her while she was studying pursuing her BCA (Bachelors in Computer Applications) course from Delhi. “Here I observed that the business of flower retail was huge”. After completing her graduation she landed a job as a community organizer in Jammu Urban Development Agency but the idea remained.

She soon left the government job and returned to the valley.  The idea of selling flowers was still fresh in her mind. Now she decided to give it a try.

She started out in December 2000 with an exhibition of fresh flowers. Incidentally she organised the exhibition with no investment at all. “I brought flowers from wholesale dealers in Delhi with a commitment of paying the money in a week”.  The exhibition was held in Hotel Sunrise in Lal Mandi.

The week long exhibition was a grand success. “For people here purchasing fresh flowers was a new experience”, says Nusrat who made a decent earning out of the exhibition.

She not only managed to pay back the dealers and the hotel but also made a significant profit.

From the earnings out of the exhibition she rented out a shop in a shopping complex in Jawaharnagar area in Srinagar. This was the first shop of its kind in the valley selling fresh flowers. “I used to get flowers from outside the state and sell them at nominal rates”

“Many people at that time saw little business sense in selling flowers”, but Nusrat had different thoughts. She approached various government departments with plans to supply fresh flowers for official events and functions. Initially her efforts went in vain but she continued the pursuit.

Her happiness knew no bounds when she bagged an annual contract from the J and K bank for the supply of fresh flowers. Soon many government departments also started placing orders.

Her business flourished. The demand for flowers was increasing at an exponential pace. There was a constant rush of customers of at the shop. “Our sales increased particularly during the marriage season”.

She soon landed the franchise of Ferns and Petals-a major retail chain of flowers in India. The franchise brought better professional and marketing support and aided the further growth of the business.

It was not long before she realised that instead of just importing flowers she could setup a business in producing them too. “The cost of importing flowers was too high”, she adds.

With her savings she purchased a farm spread over 25 Kanals in Amod at Pahalgam and started planting flowers. The plan was a grand success. “Kashmir is the most ideally suited place for floriculture and this was an industry just waiting to happen”, says Nusrat.

She not only met a major portion of the demand from the local produce but also managed to export a significant amount. “When dealers in Delhi saw the quality of the kashmiri flowers they kept on increasing the order from us”.

In order to cope up with the demand, Nusart has since then rented out a farm of 30 kanals at Wanihama, Beerwah. “Today we produce a number of flowers like Gladdulus, Carnesium , Lillium, Roses and Tulip at the farms”, adds Nusrat who plans many more farms. She also has plans of exporting Kashmiri flowers to many international markets like Dubai and the Gulf.

Collaborating on the future of the industry she says that Kashmir has a huge scope for the development of this business with a huge potential of export. She says, “A workshop by FAO in Delhi termed Kashmir as a goldmine for horticulture and floriculture. We just need to start”.

Nusrat is not only a symbol of women empowerment in the state but also a torch bearer for a whole generation. Her story is a story of a person who saw an opportunity and capitalized. “A number of possibilities are just waiting to happen. There is just a need of hard work and dedication”.

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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