The country is going to have another tea auction centre in Panchagarh within the next month, the north-western district bordering India, as the cultivation of tea in the plains is becoming popular.
“Within one month we will get the third tea auction centre here,” Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner M Jahurul Islam said.
The authorities concerned have already completed preparations in this regard, said the Deputy Commissioner of Panchagarh.
The number of tea gardens in the plains of Panchagarh and Thakurgaon is increasing day by day as they are bringing in more money for the farmers.
Among the farmers of Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts, interest in tea cultivation has peaked.
Once the Panchagarh auction centre starts operation, tea producers in the northern region of Bangladesh will benefit from reduced transportation cost.
In the initial stage, its activities will be conducted through a virtual platform before gradually becoming a full-fledged auction centre.
With the development of small- and large-scale tea cultivation, more people are being employed while the economic base of the region is getting stronger.
As a result, in the last 14 years, there has been a drastic change in the quality of life of tea plantation workers in these districts.
As per the official documents obtained from the DC offices of these two districts, it is seen that in the last fiscal year, some 12,079 acres of land in Panchagarh district and 1,457 acres in Thakurgaon were used for tea cultivation.
The area of land for tea cultivation in 2005-06 fiscal was 925 acres in Panchagarh district while it was nil for Thakurgaon district.
During a visit to these two districts, it was seen that farmers and major business establishments were cultivating tea in the plains.
Small and large tea gardens are being developed around each house on individual initiatives.
“I cultivated tea on two bigha land next to the house. I have been cultivating tea on my land since 2013. My children and I work in my garden. We picked tea leaves just a few days ago. Now, new leaves are growing,” Solaiman Islam of Tetulia, under Panchagarh district, said.
Another tea farmer of the same upazila, Mumtaz Begum, said that earlier she used to grow paddy but now she has become self-sufficient by growing tea.
“Small tea farmers like me sell leaves to factories,” she said.
In 1996, on the advice of the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the people of Panchagarh took the initiative to cultivate tea in the plains. Following that, tea cultivation started in the district in 1999.
With the success of the initiative in Panchagarh, tea cultivation started in Thakurgaon district too.
The production of green tea leaves in Panchagarh district in 2022-23 fiscal was 9,02,74,632 kg while it was only 2,30,000 kg in 2005-06 fiscal. The production of green tea leaves was 1,09,71,757 kg in Thakurgaon in the last fiscal while it was 25,23,504 kg in 2005-06.
The number of big tea gardens in Panchagarh was only one with 172 small ones. The number of big tea gardens in 2022-23 fiscal is nine with 8,355 small ones. The number of running mills was one in 2005-06 while it is 26 in 2022-23 fiscal. Employed tea garden workers were 1,475 in 2005-06 fiscal while it is 15,000 in 2022-23. The income from tea sales was Tk 1.2 crore in 2005-06 fiscal while it is Tk 280 crore in 2022-23 fiscal.