Delwar Kabir, Jhenidah
Many farmers in Harinakundu upazila of Jhenidah are changed their lot and becoming financially solvent by farming betel leaf in their fields.
Visiting a number of betel leaf gardens in the upazila, this correspondent found that the farmers have achieved bumper yield of the product this year. The farmers have been reaping better from the betel leaf.
Many farmers talked to the Bangladesh Post and expressed their happiness. They said that the farming has changed the socio-economic state of the farmers who have been engaged with the betel leaf farming for years.
Deputy Director of Department of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Jhenidah said that the farmers of the district have produced 25,084 tones of betel leaf on 24,405 hectares in the current season, while the figure was 2,285 tones from 2,2325 hectares in the past season.
DAE sources said the farmers of Harinakundu produced the same on more than 50 per cent of the total land in the district.
Betel leaf farmer Bablu Mandal, 40, and his wife Kakali Khatun, 35, of village Daulatpur said that they have been cultivating betel leaf on a total of 28 decimals of land for last 13 years.
In last year, they harvested betel leaf for Tk 3.5 lakh excluding the straw, oil cake, bamboo and other costs. As both the couple work themselves at the plot, it does not require any day labourer charge.
The couple has been expecting at least Taka four lakh from the same plot as the price was satisfactory in the market, they said.
Kakali Khatun said that she does not feel hesitation in working in the garden abide her husband Bablu Mandal as the plot has been providing financial solvency for the family. “We have settled the marriage of our eldest daughter last year spending a good amount of money and running the family smoothly. We have also constructed building house spending more money for our own house at the village”, said the couple.
According to the couple, betel farming might ensure socio-economic base for any farmer’s family when the farmers were incurring heavy loss cultivating paddy, jute and some traditional crops for past few years.
If a man or women spends the physical labour with confidence for a piece of land for betel leaf farming, the poverty could not touch him anyway.
Bablu Mandal said a number of market of betel leaf selling were created at Harinakundu, Sailkupa and Jhenidah Sadar upazilas where the whole sellers procure the leafs from the farmers directly.
As the the buyers offer cash, they are not afraid of loss.
Sub assistant agriculture officer (SAAO) of Kapashatia block under Harinakundu said that the farmer meets the necessity of fish, meat, vegetables, clothing, education expenses of their daughter and other family matters. They also save some money every week from the sale proceeds. Harinakundu upazila agriculture officer (UAO) Arshed Ali Chowdhury told the Bangladesh Post that the betel leaf production in the upazila is of best quality in the region. A portion of the betel leaf produced in Harinakundu is sent to Dhaka, Barishal, Comilla and some other markets. Further, some quantity is exported to some Middle East and United Arab Emirates (UAE) countries for its fragrance, shape and size and quality, he added.
The betel leafs farming has been playing vital role for the uplift of the socio-economic state of the farmers, as well as the country, Arshed Ali Chowdhury said.