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January 22, 2021

First ‘Karachi Marigold Festival’ kicks off at Frere Hall today


January 22, 2021

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) Parks & Horticulture Department is holding the first Karachi Marigold Festival at the Frere Hall from Friday (today) to Sunday. Between 40,000 and 50,000 marigolds will be on display during the event.

A large number of nurseries as well as other relevant departments are taking part in the festival. Different stalls will also be established for the event.

KMC Administrator Laeeq Ahmed has asked people to attend the festival with their families and make it a success. He said that different types of marigolds in large numbers have never been exhibited before at any festival in the city.

Over 40 parks in Karachi are under the KMC’s administrative control. Parks & Horticulture Director Taha Saleem explained that to make informed decisions for the city’s parks, he needed horticulturists on board, so after assuming charge as director parks, he formed a Baghban Advisory Committee, “which is our core committee, our brain”.

He said the committee has horticulturists, ecologists, soil experts and architects. “Every Monday we meet and deliberate on our long-term and short-term goals. Through this committee, the concept of this festival emerged.” The committee comprises media consultant Sheharyar Ali, Horticulture of Pakistan council member Rafiul Haq, horticulturist Tofiq Pasha, soil expert Dr Tahir, architects Faiz Qidwai and Tariq Alexander, UN representatives and other members.

Saleem pointed out that ever since the city was struck by a heatwave a few years ago, citizens have been haphazardly planting. “There’s no planning; everyone has started planting wherever they want to. We want to guide the public on how to do sustainable and long-lasting planting.”

He said that through this festival they want to encourage seasonal plantation. “We want people to realise that winter may not be the best time for planting, but this is the time for flowers such as marigold.”

He mentioned that after the winter they plan to hold another seasonal festival. Earlier, he pointed out, since informed decisions were not taken, the results of planting were not good.

Saleem said preparations for the festival had begun in October, but due to climate change the timings of the flowers fluctuated. “We informed people about planting this, and the private sector also jumped in. We expect to decorate the entire Frere Hall with marigolds.”

According to Ali of the advisory committee, this festival is a revival of the KMC’s Parks & Horticulture Department. “This will spread awareness about seasonal planting among the public.”

He explained that they had earlier been planning to plant trees, but after expert opinions decided to hold a marigold festival. He said trees will be planted in spring after consulting with their technical committee.

He said that this year they have selected six major roads of Karachi for planting, for which students have also been involved, adding that Sharea Faisal, Shahrah-e-Pakistan, Rashid Minhas Road, Malir Halt Road, University Road and Korangi Industrial Road have been surveyed by the students.

Ali said the survey results were put in front of the experts, and in April they plan to turn them green, adding that a list of some 100 native trees to be planted in different parts of the city has been prepared. “We’re moving away from monoculture in tree planting.”

He also mentioned that there was an issue of ownership of parks in the city, so to address the issue they formed nine Baghban neighbourhood committees.

He explained that their concept is to engage people from neighbourhoods and communities or regular park visitors. “It’s all voluntary. These committees are doing a wonderful job; they’re helping us maintain the parks.”

He pointed out that the attendance of their park staff and the performance of gardeners have also improved, saying that their target is to have a Baghban Neighbourhood Committee for every KMC park. “Anyone can be a part of the committee; we have a WhatsApp group for each committee and I’m also in the group.”

Meanwhile, Administrator Ahmed said that different companies and organisations are also taking part in the marigold festival. He has ordered his subordinates to provide every possible facility to the people visiting the programme.

He said yellow and golden marigolds are gifts of the winter season, adding that information about the flowers will also be provided to the visitors to pique their interest.

He pointed out that people’s interest will lead them to planting these flowers in their homes and gardens. He hoped that the festival will be exemplary and people will remember it for long. “The KMC will hold this festival every year.”