The tea farming continues increasing on ‘small-scale gardening basis’ in Panchagarh since beginning of its cultivation in 2000 as thought by the then Prime Mistier Sheikh Hasina.
The small-scale tea farming changes the economic conditions of people, marginal farmers and working women of the district. It speeds up growth of the tea sector in Panchagarh.Hundreds of women, who lived in poverty, are now better off by achieving self-reliance from earning wages as plucking workers in the gardens of the third tea zone of the country.
The growing tea sector has raised hope for enhancing the standards of socio-economic life and women empowerment in Panchagarh and adjoining districts.
BSS adds: the thriving tea sector is boosting economy of the sub-Himalayan Panchagarh district bringing solvency to many farmers as well as farm-workers improving their life standard and livelihoods.
Beginning from 2000, small, marginal and bigger farmers and investors are showing interests in tea farming on the plain land in the sub-Himalayan district as a cash crop.
Officials of Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB) at its Panchagarh regional office said tea production is showing faster growth changing economic condition of the farmers as well as farm-workers, including poor women.
“Tea farming continues increasing on `small-scale gardening basis’ in Panchagarh since beginning of its cultivation in 2000 as thought by the then Prime Mistier Sheikh Hasina,” said Senior Scientific Officer of BTB Dr Mohammad Shameem Al Mamun. Currently, tea is being cultivated on 2,265 hectares of land, including 2,105 hectares in Panchagarh and 160 hectares in adjoining Thakurgaon, against 1,845 hectares of land last year in these two northern districts.
Tea is being cultivated in nine tea estates and 18 gardens and vast land of around 450 small-scale farmers in these two districts where production of ‘made-tea’ increased by 70 percent last year.
Dr Mamun said, “A record quantity of 54.40-lakh kg ‘made-tea’, worth Taka 108.80 crore, was manufactured in 2017, higher by 70 percent than 32-lakh kg ‘made-tea’ manufactured in 2016 in Panchagarh.”
The ‘made-tea’ production will further increase creating more jobs as the farmers have cultivated the crop on 420 hectares of more land this year than last year.
A total of 12 tea companies are processing tea after producing green tea leaves in their gardens and purchasing the same from farmers to produce ‘made-tea’ in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon to sell the products at Chittagong
Auction Market. “Earlier, 25.21-lakh kg ‘made-tea’ was manufactured in 2015 and 14.21-lakh kg ‘made-tea’ in 2014 against only 1.61-lakh kg in 2005 when commercial basis tea cultivation began in Panchagarh,” Dr Mamun said.
Currently, BTB is implementing the ‘Expansion of Small Holding Tea Cultivation in Northern Bangladesh Project’ at Taka 4.97-crore since 2015 to expand tea farming by more 500 hectares of land within 2020 in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts.
Panchagarh Sadar upazila chairman Anwar Sadat told BSS that the prospective tea sector was changing socioeconomic condition of the local people creating huge jobs for the female tea-leaves plucking labourers who were jobless in the pasts.
“Over 9,000 rural women are now engaged in plucking green tea- leaves in tea gardens of Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts as farm-workers to lead better life with a dream of building better future for their children,” he said.
Vice-president of Panchagarh Chamber Mehedi Hasan Khan Babla said tea cultivation has become popular among local farmers enabling them to earn better profits by
selling green tea leaves to enhance economy of these two sub-Himalayan districts.