Tiny ponds with pink, yellow, blue, red and purple lilies are a common sight for visitors of Rakibul Hasan’s water garden. An accountant by profession, Rakibul has been pursuing his passion of water gardening since 2014.
The water garden is located in Rakibul’s home yard, in Ponchobiti, Narayanganj. It has over 80 different types of aquatic plants. “I have over 60 different types of waterlily and lotus plants,” said Rakibul. “Besides those, I have collected many other rare varieties of aquatic plants from different places around the world, especially from Europe, USA and Thailand.” A couple of years back, Rakibul started getting requests from his friends to share some of his collections.
He first started germinating water plants from tubers and rhizomes, commercially brought from abroad. “This hobby has now turned into my part-time profession. Since 2016, I have been selling exclusive and exquisite varieties of water plants online through my Facebook page, Agri Aqua Bd,” shared Rakibul. He is the first person in Bangladesh to sell Giant Victoria Amazon waterlily plants online.
According to the gardener, Bangladesh is home to many beautiful and rare varieties of aquatic plants, such as Shornokumud (Nuphar Lutea), Holud Pana (Yellow Head Sawah Lettuce), Jol Lojjaboti (Neptunia Aquatica), and Water Hawthron. However, these types of plants have nearly gone extinct and today, they are rarely found anywhere. “Collecting plants from locations outside Dhaka has always been a challenge for me,” mentioned Rakibul. “People are unwilling to share information, especially when it comes to revealing the exact locations. Some even deny that they have specific plants in their collections.”
With the dengue virus spreading all over the country, Rakibul has faced several questions and queries about his initiative. “I have around 2,000 Guppy fish in my mini-tanks. They feed on mosquito larvae and eggs. An adult Guppy fish can eat nearly 35 mosquito larvae daily,” he shared. “This helps me keep my garden free of mosquitoes. I also clean my tanks regularly. There is a large group of people living in my home, including my son and other family members. None of them have been diagnosed with any water-borne diseases yet.”
The young gardener hopes to expand his collection and gather over a hundred different varieties of plants by next year. Besides working to collect more types of aquatic plants from different parts of the world, Rakibul aims to cultivate and conserve uncommon plants. In addition, he wants to share his knowledge about native and rare aquatic plants with aspiring water gardeners in Bangladesh.