Booming betel leaf farming at Rajshahi villages

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RAJSHAHI, Feb 1, 2019 (BSS)-Betel leaf cultivation is increasing day by day
in the district as it requires a less cost for cultivation and irrigation
compared to many other crops.

The farmers are showing more interest in betel leaf cultivation since they
got its lucrative market price in the last couple of years. Betel-leaf grown
in the district has high demand at home and abroad for its quality and
flavour.

According to the sources of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE),
topographic and climatic condition of some upazilas like Mohanpur, Bagmara,
Durgapur, Puthiya and Paba are very suitable for the cash crop farming. And
accordingly the farmers have been cultivating the crop in those areas for
long.

Muhammad Ali, a farmer of Chandapur village under Bagmara Upazila of the
district, has become self-reliant through betel leaf farming. As the first
betel leaf grower in his locality, Ali earned fame as a successful farmer in
the region. His three sons- Aminul Islam, Abdul Hamid and Ali Hossain- extend
support to his works earnestly.

By dint of his hardworking and relentless efforts, Ali built a concrete
house for the first time in the area. Witnessing his success many of his
neighbours became inspired and established ‘baraj’, unit of betel leaf
farming, and they are now doing well.

At present, the three brothers have set up separate ‘baraj’ and they have
also become successful farmers.

“Earlier, we had scanty land, had only one ‘baraj’ and faced many problems.
But, now we are owners of 12 bighas of land and have 4/5 ‘baraj’ separately,”
said Aminul Islam while narrating their successes.

Aminul said they work very hard in the farming and pass most of their time
in nursing betel leaf plants. Though, they have little formal education, they
are now committed to making their offspring well-educated with their
earnings.

Abdul Hamid said demand for Bagmara’s betel leaf has enhanced gradually in
different parts of the region including Bogura, Rangpur and Dinajpur.

He said the leaf is also being exported to different Middle East countries
and it has become very much popular in Saudi Arabia. Earlier, we used to sell
betel leaf at different local markets like Atrai, Taherpur, Mohanganj,
Mollapara and Aloknagar, he added.

However, at present, Aloknagar has become a big market for betel leaf and
many wholesalers and retailers come to the market from different areas to
purchase betel leaf.

Muktar Hossain, a farmer of Baktiarpur village under Durgqpur upazila, said
two types of betel leaves are being cultivated in the area, such as sweet
betel leaf and Sanchi betel leaf. However, 70 percent of the total
cultivation is sweet betel leaf.

Mokbul Hossain, another farmer of Mohanpur Upazila, said he and his wife
have been cultivating betel leaf for more than 21 years.

Shamsul Alam, deputy director of DAE, Rajshahi said: “We provide necessary
farming technology to the growers of betel leaf together with disease control
measures.”

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Department of Agronomy of Rajshahi University,
said betel leaf farming is profitable compared to many other crops.

He said Taka two to three lakh could easily be cashed from one bigha of
land if the farming was modernized.

He said acreage of betel leaf farming is around 2,000 hectares in the
district producing around 35,000 metric tonnes of crops valued at around Taka
90 crore annually and over 25,000 farmers are involved in its farming
directly.

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