Women becomes self reliant through tea cultivation in fallow land

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DHAKA, Feb 2, 2019 (BSS) – The days now have changed; the womenfolk now do
not remain busy only with the daily household works or nurturing the
children. From piloting aircraft to running the country, everywhere they are
keeping their sign of successes. The women are also working at the mills and
factories, in the ICT sector and also making a revolution in the agriculture.
The women from the country’s Northern district Panchagarh have started to get
involved in tea cultivation.

When anyone thinks about tea cultivation in the country, then the picture
of hilly areas in Sylhet come to our mindset. But, over the last few years,
tea gardens have mushroomed in the plain lands of Panchagarh. Big companies
or large business conglomerates were used to get involved in tea farming and
tea business, but now the marginal farmers of this district are being
involved in tea cultivation and they are also getting benefitted.

While making a field visit to the tea gardens and talking to the marginal
farmers, it was learnt that in Panchagarh, especially in the frontier
Tentulia upazila, hundreds of tea gardens have grown up in the district over
the years with private initiatives apart from the large-scale tea gardens and
estates.

Many tea farmers are now cultivating tea on small pieces of land beside
their houses. Even the women tea farmers are cultivating tea as ‘cash crop’
instead of cultivating paddy or vegetables. Mukta Begum, hailed from
Dorjipara under Tentulia Upazila, is such a successful tea farmer like other
tea farmers of Dorjipara and adjacent areas.

Talking to this correspondent, Mukta said that paddy or other food grains
could not be cultivated in the fallow land beside the homesteads and for this
reason she had started to grow tea following suggestion from an NGO.

“This is a fallow land. Nothing grows here…….no paddy no wheat, this
land always remains fallow. Since we have no other crop to cultivate, we grow
tea here,” she added.

This female tea farmer said that she had got the idea of tea farming from
a Samity as they had suggested her not to keep the land uncultivated, rather
to grow tea. “Following their suggestion, I started to grow tea and now I am
self reliant,”

After that Mukta along with other females of the locality took training
under the management of an NGO and with the course of time, all of them are
now successful in tea cultivation.

“It’s almost nine years since I had started my tea garden. In the first
three years, I couldn’t pluck any leave from the trees, even I didn’t know
how to water the garden and give insecticides,” Mukta added.

After taking that training, Mukta said she had then learnt on how to take
care of the tea trees, how to water the garden and how to pluck tea leaves.

Telling the story of her uplift in her personal life, Mukta said she had
improved her financial condition through farming tea. “Earlier we lived in a
hut. But, now we have a pacca house (half building) and we’re also farming
cross-breed cows,”

She also informed that her husband was used to do business of selling
paddy and rice, but the business was not that much successful adding, “But,
now we can manage our family smoothly with the income from tea cultivation.
We’re far well off then our previous time,”

According to the regional office of Tea Board in Panchagarh, tea
cultivation in the district has now been expanded up to 2,255.55 hectares of
land. There are around 182 small tea growers in the district having land
below five hectares while there are some 19 tea estates.

An official at the regional office of the Tea Board said that the
government has been providing all necessary technical support, subsidies,
credit support and training to the tea growers.

During her visit to Panchagarh back in 1996, the then Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina had highlighted the bright potentials of tea cultivation in
that district and subsequently tea cultivation started there since then. But,
the commercial tea cultivation started in 2000.

The organic tea, produced from Panchagarh, is being sold at the auction
market at Harrods in London while this local tea is also being exported to
UAE, Japan and the USA. The tea production target in this year has been fixed
at 0.8 million kgs.

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