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Business Idioms
 
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 prices.

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 miners' eggs.

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 cargo complex.

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"...

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. Why was Feisal intent on a career in floriculture ?
  2. Explain why Feisal's relatives believed that he was "committing economic suicide ".
  3. Give three reasons supporting Feisal's belief that his flower industry would succeed.
  4. Why did Feisal prefer not to use pesticides in his nursery ?
  5. Explain how Feisal's team of researchers helped his company prosper.
  6. Explain why Harapan's flowers were considered inferior to those from Holland and Colombia initially.
  7. What measures did Feisal take to improve the image of Harapan's products ?
  Fill in the blanks with one correct word from the passage.
  8. The humid ______ of the Caribbean Islands makes them unsuitable for the growth of the temperate maple trees.
  9. Salting, canning and freezing are methods by which we ______ food, so that they have a longer shelf-life.
  10. Do not eat the fish from that river -- it has been ______ by toxic wastes from that factory.
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Answers
 

1.

It was because Feisal had been fascinated by flowers ever since he was a child. He was inspired by the ancient Babylonians and Persians, who were responsible for the magnificent Hanging Gardens and the horticultural center in Susa, respectively.
 

2.

It was because they thought it was more profitable to grow tea or vegetables than to grow temperate flowers. Moreover, they felt that Feisal could not compete with the Western producers.
 

3.

Firstly, the climate in Cameron Highlands was ideal for rearing temperate flowers. Secondly since there were no changes in season, the flowers could be grown all year round, unlike in Europe. Finally, his nursery would be located near other Asian countries, which allowed for lower export costs and thus, affordable prices.
 

4.

It was because pesticides contain hazardous chemicals which pollute the environment. These toxic substances are absorbed by the soil and subsequently, contaminate water for drinking and farming.
 

5.

They increased productivity by educating the farmers on the best methods of cultivation. In addition, they developed new types and varieties of flowers and improve existing ones through cross breeding and hybridization.
  6. It was because the flowers were damaged or withered by the time they reached their markets overseas as a result of mishandling.
  7. Feisal ensured that the flowers were kept fresh through speedy packing and cooling machines and boxes. He also launched an advertising campaign to promote his company. Finally, he packaged the flowers beautifully to attract consumers.
  8. climate
  9. preserve
  10. contaminated
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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