By Amaka Agwuegbo
It is a known fact that landscaping and beautification can help you make your compound and environment look more beautiful; but this is not the only advantage that landscaping offers. It offers relaxation spots to ease off stress and boost tourism.
Since the advent of the present leadership of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, Lagos State has witnessed tremendous growth in the beautification of the environment as is evidenced by the beautification of side walks, under bridges, parks, triangles and roundabouts.
Landscaping and beautification, with was once seen as a job for school dropouts and the never-do-well of the society, is now a money spinner, and with more people going into it.
But, Mr. Shola Adekoya, the Gardener-in-Charge of Shodex Beautification Landmark Limited, whose interest in gardening and beautification as a child spurred him into establishing his business, did not go into landscaping because of the above stated reasons.
According to him, â€œI have always been interested in beautification and gardening since I was a little child because, as a child, I loved seeing houses with beautiful gardens. That made me to start collecting flowers and planting gardens right from my childhood, and that hobby is now my mainstay.
â€œI was still doing my A levels in 1983 when I realized that I could make a living from beautification and landscaping, so I decided to commercialize the business with just N65, now, the business has grown tremendously and is worth roughly N20 million.
â€œThough I had a rough time when I started out in terms of lack of funds and garden equipments of work with, but because of the genuine interest I have in gardening, I was able to get jobs from government, private and corporate bodies. The proceeds from these jobs have been ploughed back into the business, thus, propelling and putting us in the vanguard landscaping profession.â€
Adekoya said Shodex Beautification Landmark Limited has 50 employees and some of the of the jobs that have been executed include Werderâ€™s Barracks in Ikoyi,
Anthony to Onipanu garden, the frontage of LASTMAâ€™s Oshodi office, office of the Waste Transfer Management Board at Simpson Street for LAWMA, Daleko roundabout which was sponsored by the local government, Costain roundabout which was sponsored by First Bank, among numerous others.
So lucrative is this beautification business that Adekoya admits that apart from Shodex Beautification Landmark Limited, he established Creative Gardeners located in Ogun State and also an environmental NGO – Nature Protection and Environmental Initiative.
On how he copes in the face of growing competition, Adekoya said the edge Shodex Beautification Landmark Limited has above others is its level of creativity in jobs executed.
â€œThe competition is there, but God has positioned us in such a way that since our work has to do with creativity, we have been able to display a high level of creativity in contracts that we have executed. And this has placed us above most of our colleagues in this business.
â€œWe also have other means of generating income, so we are not only into beautification and landscaping, but also have different spaces in the garden for rent and these range from N120,000 to N200,000.
â€œWe also have school children who come for excursions and we teach them about the environment, global warming, how they can set up a business like this, among others and we charge N500 per child.â€
Due to his visible commitment and passion for gardening and the unquantifiable experience gathered over the years, Shodex Beautification Landmark Limited has been awarded various beautification contracts by the Lagos State government.
â€œThough all jobs come with their challenges, but it has been interesting working with the state government because of the leadership in place. First and foremost, you have to be interested in gardening before you can go into it; and because of Governor Fasholaâ€™s interest in transforming our environment, we have his support and encouragement.
This has made it easy for us to survive the rough times since the society where we operate in is not informed about the importance of gardening. Thus, the society is not supportive of what we do.â€
This father of four revealed that he feels unhappy and dejected walking in environments that lack landscaping and gardens as an environment that is well beautified could attract foreign investors and tourists.
â€œWhenever I am in environments that are not beautified, I am unhappy because I feel the government has failed the citizens; and when you fail humanity, you have failed God. I believe that cials that are not familiar with this business they look down on it. This makes it difficult to sensitise or educate them or the general public about the business since a lot of them prefer to go into other businesses than going into landscaping or beautification.
He concluded by saying â€œBut with the sensitivity and awareness campaign of the local and state governments, more people are getting involved in gardening and landscaping.â€
He noted that since landscaping and beautification is known to attract foreign investors and boost tourism, Adekoya urged the government to help create the enabling environment for those in the beautification business to carry out their businesses.
â€œIf government wants to grow this landscape business, it must establish a school of horticulture. Though some universities offer courses on horticulture, but government should make it a compulsory course in higher institutions so that when you are building a house, you would know that there ought to be a green area in the compound which you can do by yourself.
â€œAlso, government can encourage those of us in the business by bringing in some expensive equipment which we canâ€™t buy or liaise with banks to give us lease on these equipments.
â€œGovernment needs to create awareness on landscaping. This can be done by collaborating with stakeholders to promote the profession. This is because some countries depend on landscaping for their Gross Domestic Income (GDI). So they should promote it to help boost our economy.
â€œLandscaping and gardening is not limited to flowering alone but involves crops, herbs which is the in thing world over. So you can have a herbs garden that other nations will come and buy herbs for different ailments from.
â€œGovernment can set up a research center, encourage people to plant flowers and have gardens in their homes, sensitise people to plant trees and green areas to ward off climate change and global warning.