Feisal gazed out his office window, which overlooked his vast nursery. A sense
of accomplishment and satisfaction surged through him as he admired the blossoms
in their brilliant myriad colours. He decided to conduct a tour of inspection
before heading home.
When his father passed away ten years ago, Feisal
inherited some 100 hectares of undeveloped land in Cameron Highlands. His
relatives advised him to commercially plant tea or vegetables, but, always an
unconventional entrepreneur, Feisal decided to embark on floriculture instead.
As a child, he had read about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built in the sixth
century BC, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. He was also
inspired by the Persians, whose fine gardens in Susa became a major
horticultural centre in the pre-Christian era.
Needless to say, Feisal's decision to commercially cultivate temperate
flowers was met with ridicule and criticism from family and friends alike. They
were all convinced that he was committing economic `suicide' and that he could
not hope to compete with major producers in the West.
However, Feisal was certain that his business venture would succeed. The cool
climate in Cameron Highlands was ideal for growing temperate flowers like roses,
carnations, chrysanthemums and the like. Since the climate remained constant, he
could rear the blooms all year round, unlike the European countries, where
cultivation was seasonal. Furthermore, the proximity to Asian markets like Hong
Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore meant that his flowers could be exported at
lower cost. This, in turn, would allow them to be sold at more affordable
With little more than fire in his belly, Feisal established a nursery. He
named his company "Harapan" - the Malay word for "hope" - to signify his dreams
and undying resolve. Of course, he did not escape his share of problems...
Feisal smiled as he recalled how his harvest had nearly been wiped out by
pests - in particular, the leaf miner - in the company's infant years.
Pesticides helped to contain the problem, but these threatened to wreak havoc on
the environment. Absorbed into the soil, the hazardous chemicals contaminated
the water used for drinking and farming. Feisal thus switched to more
ecologically-friendly controls and imported small wasps, which fed on the leaf
The farmers greeted him as he arrived at the nursery. Feisal was pleased to
note that the flowers, which required delicate care, were well nurtured by his
dedicated farmers. Pipes were laid in the ground to provide the right amount of
moisture. Overhead irrigation was only carried out occasionally to wash off
chemical residues. Shelters were erected to protect the blooms from rotting and
disease, which often accompanied the constant rain. Feisal noticed a slight
growth of algae on the clear plastic sheets and requested a replacement - the
algae would obstruct the sunlight and stunt the growth of the plants.
Feisal was glad that he had invested in education and research. His team of
specialists trained the farmers on proper cultivation techniques to increase
productivity. In addition, they developed new varieties and types of flowers of
superior quality through cross-breeding and hybridization.
As he completed his inspection, Feisal recalled how Harapan's blooms had been
considered inferior to those from Colombia and Holland, often showcased in
up-market outlets. Thankfully, he correctly identified the root of the problem.
Apparently, the flowers were sorely mishandled. Normally harvested at seven
o'clock each morning, they took two hours to be packed and another four hours to
be transported via lorries to the airport. Little was done to preserve their
freshness. Further damage was inflicted in the airport's non-air conditioned
Thus, Feisal installed more efficient devices to speed up packing. Cooling
machines and boxes were made available to ensure that the flowers did not wither
prematurely. In addition, his flowers were creatively arranged and packaged in
beautiful boxes tied with ribbons. The advertising campaign he launched was so
successful that Harapan's creations, which included corsages, wedding bouquets,
wreaths and decors, were greatly sought after.
As he drove home, Feisal contemplated opening more nurseries. There was no
more suitable land available in the Cameron Highlands, but the Lojing Highlands
in Kelantan and Kundasang in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu had great
potential. They, too, had cool climates. He would name his new branch "Kejayaan"
- for "Success"...