RANGPUR, Oct 28, 2017 (BSS) – Tea production is boosting every year in the northern Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts bringing fortune to many farmers and creating jobs for the poor.
“Tea cultivation is expanding in Panchagarh and adjoining Thakurgaon, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat districts to change economy of the region,” said Senior Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB) at Panchagarh Dr Mohammad Shameem Al Mamun.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina first launched tea cultivation in plain land of Panchagarh in 2000 and its production continues increasing since then, he said.
BTB officials said `small-scale gardening basis’ tea cultivation has been proved highly profitable in Panchagarh and its adjoining districts.
Currently, tea is being cultivated on 1,845 hectares of land in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon district in nine tea estates and 15 gardens and vast lands of 280 small-scale farmers in addition to more 1,500 smaller gardens.
Nine tea companies, eight in Panchagarh and one in Thakurgaon, are processing tea after producing green tea leaves in their gardens as well as purchasing the same from farmers to produce ‘made-tea’ for selling at Chittagong Auction Market.
“A record quantity of over 32-lakh kg ‘made-tea’ was manufactured after processing over 1.45-crore kg green tea leaves produced in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts last year,” said Dr Mamun.
Over 25.21-lakh kg ‘made-tea’ was manufactured after processing 1.18-crore kg of green tea leaves in 2015 and 14.21-lakh kg ‘made-tea’ after processing 63.27-lakh kg green tea leaves in 2014 in Panchagarh alone.
“Earlier, 14.55 kg ‘made-tea’ was produced in 2013 against only 1.61-lakh kg in 2005 when commercial basis cultivation began in Panchagarh,” Dr Mamun added.
Talking to BSS, farmer Matiar Rahman of village Sonapatila under Panchagarh Sadar upazila, said he began cultivating tea on his five acres of land as a small-scale tea grower for the first time in 2002.
“Currently, I am cultivating tea on 45 acres of land as a small-holder and selling produced green tea leaves to tea processing companies,” he said. “Tea farming has brought fortune to my family along with improving life standard of many tea-labourers,” he added.
Manager of Panchagarh Northbengal Tea Factory Abdur Razzaque said, “Local farmers sell their produced green tea leaves to us and we process those to manufacture quality ‘made tea’.”
President of Panchagarh District Small Tea Garden Owners’ Association Amirul Haque Khokan said tea sector has a brighter future in the region where some 9,000 people, including rural women, are employed in tea industry.
“We are implementing the ‘Expansion of Small Holding Tea Cultivation in Northern Bangladesh Project’ since 2015 at taka 4.97 crore to expand tea farming by more 500 hectares of land within 2020 in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts,” said Dr Mamun.