Many poor rural people of the district have found the cultivation of herbal plant ‘Vasak’ highly profitable as different pharmaceutical companies are collecting its leaves from villagers at good prices because of its huge medical values.
Vasaka or Adhatoda vasica or Malabar nut is an important Ayurvedic medicinal herb. All parts of the plant -- from root to leaves -- are used to treat many ailments. The plant is said to be effective in treating asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis and other raspatory disorders.
Hafizur Rahman, a resident of Fingri village in Sadar upazila, said once they planted Vasak tree as a fence of their house and considered its leaves as garbage. Now, they are making money by selling those in the market.
Amirun Begum, another resident of the village, said she normally buys per kilogram fresh leaves at Tk 5 and then she sells it at Tk 35 per kg.
She said various pharmaceutical companies purchase Vasak leaves from villages of the district for making medicines.
Beauty Begum, a leader of Vasak leaves collection group, said, “Once there was no financial importance of these leaves to us. Now we used the tree as fence of our house. Now, we collect leaves and sell those in the market.”
Sabina Khatun, Bina Das, Johora Khatun, Oporna Das, Rohela Khatun, Anwara Begum, Rebeka Sultana, Nasima Khatun, Nazma Begum, Hafizul Islam, Amina Khatun are among those who are making mo0ney selling Vasak leaves.
There are huge Vasak plants on both sides of a 6-km road in Fingri union of sadar upazila. Besides, there are around 10,000 Basak trees at the homesteads of many people in the upazila. Some 100 tons of fresh leaves and around 26 tons dry leaves are collected here every year.
Md Shamim Alam, an official at Satkhira Water Development Board, said around 285 women of the union are collecting leaves under ‘Blue Gold Project’ of the board. Different pharmaceutical companies buy their leaves.
Md Anwarul Islam, a representative of Square Pharmaceuticals Limited, said the demand of Vasak leaves is growing as it is widely used to make cough syrup.
Prof Dr Nasrin Akhter, the head of Botany department of Satkhira Government College, said Vasak plants are commercially grown here and elsewhere in the country as its leaves have huge medicinal values.
Besides, he said, the soil of the district is suitable for Vasak cultivation.