This season typically means that rose, seaweed and jasmine fields are collected for sale in the bigger cities for 3 scenic Northwest Pakistan hamlets bursting in blooms each spring. Yet this year Bazid Khel, Shahab Khel and Suleman Khel are dying blossom wastelands south of the Peshawar Valley.
“It is very difficult to watch the flower fields wilting, especially when you have worked so hard to grow them,” flower farmer Inayat Rehman told Arab News, standing over rows of bent stalks.
As part of strict nationwide containment measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, Peshawar city and its surrounding areas are on lockdown, effectively paralyzing daily life and livelihoods.
Even at the peak of militancy, when these villages were involved in a bloody war, Rehman said, flowers had continued to sell to mark celebrations, weddings and funerals.
Now there is nobody around to buy his flowers, he said. Not even for the graves of their loved ones. Just 30 minutes away from the green fields of Bazid Khel lies the heart of Peshawar city also known as the city of flowers.
“It is a very uncertain situation now,” Inam Jan, a farmer whose family has been growing flowers for several generations, told Arab News. “And each day, it’s getting worse and the growers are worried about their crops.
“Due to coronavirus, the spring season has passed without joy. Otherwise we farmers earn handsome amounts in March and April.”
“Unlike other businesses, farmers can’t stop flower production,” he said. And it was impossible, he added, for farmers and traders to store their flowers if they were not sold off in the markets within days. “And so they are lost,” said businessman in the flower trade.