Gladioli brings hope of better life

Bibi Gul tending her gladioli
Rural Development Organization (RSPN)
A USAID-funded initiative helps an AJK community to start growing gladioli as a profitable business
“I am grateful to USAID for helping us find a respectable way to earn income.” says Bibi Gul, one of the 190 beneficiaries in Rawalkot, Azad Jammu & Kashmir
Bibi Gul, a 40-year-old widow with three children living in Banjosa village, Rawalakot Tehsil, District Poonch of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, could not believe she earned Rs 60,000 from the sale of 6,000 gladioli stems she grown with USAID support. “I can’t be more thankful to Allah for bestowing upon me this day when I have so much money,” said Bibi Gul with tears of joy in her eyes.
The entire Rawalakot valley last summer was covered in pink, red, yellow and white gladioli cultivated by Banjosa families. The initiative began with a grant that USAID issued through the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund to a local non-governmental organization to expand income-earning opportunities in the Banjosa Union Council.  The grantee, LSO Banjosa Rural Development Organization, identified gladioli farming as profitable agricultural activity for the area. Gladioli stems are sold to be gifted as a token of good wishes or used in ornamental arrangements.  Planted in June, gladioli reach full bloom in August and September. Due to the cooler mountainous climate and short summer season, Rawalkot valley is much better suited to grow gladioli than the traditional crops such as wheat or maize. 
Under the USAID grant, Banjosa Rural Development Organization provided gladioli bulbs for 190 farmer families and trained them in sowing, cutting, weeding, watering, and packing techniques in cooperation with the Horticulture Department of Azad Jammu Kashmir University, Rawalakot.  Each family received 7,000 bulbs, an amount sufficient for one canal of land. The grantee also made arrangements with flower dealers to collect the gladioli from the farmers and distribute them to retailers throughout Pakistan. 
By the end of the season, the farmers harvested thousands of stems, increasing the gladioli supply to estimated 2 million stems. Each stem was sold for approximately 10 to 15 Pakistani Rupees to the dealers, earning each household an income of 60,000 to 70,000 Rupees.  
Additionally, each gladioli bulb produced 4 to 7 seed bulbs. “Planting gladiolas has created a reliable and secure source income for us, since this year’s yield has given our family not only a good income but also produced 35,000 seed bulbs to plant next year”, explained another farmer, 30-year-old Rashid, one of the 400 people that got employment through this initiative.
Holding the earnings in her hands, Bibi Gul added: “Along with 52 other women beneficiaries of this initiative, I am grateful to USAID for helping us find a respectable way to earn income”.
March 2013
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Last updated: December 16, 2013

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