RANGPUR: Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB) has fixed an all-time record target of producing 10 million kilograms of made-tea for five northern districts in the ‘Kartoa Valley’ ecological zone this year.
BTB officials at its regional office in Panchagarh informed that the ‘Kartoa Valley’ ecological zone witnessed a record output of 10.30 million kg made-tea last year (2020) despite the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, reports BSS.“The last year’s made-tea output was higher by 0.70 million kg against the production of 9.60 million kg of the previous 2019 year,” Senior Scientific Officer at Bangladesh Tea Research Institute Dr Mohammad Shameem Al Mamun said. As the small-scale gardening-basis’ tea cultivation on plain lands continues expanding every year, made-tea production also increased alongside creating more employment for jobless people to cut their poverty and improve living standard in the valley.
In 2019, tea was cultivated on 8,680 acres of land in five northern districts producing 9.60 million kg of made-tea after processing the produced green tea leaves at 18 local tea processing factories in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts.
“In 2020, 10 registered and 17 unregistered tea gardens and 7,310 small-scale growers cultivated tea on 10,170 acres of land producing 51.28 million kg of green tea leaves and 10.30 million kg of made-tea after processing those in factories,” Dr Mamun said.
This year, tea is being cultivated on more land aiming at producing over 45 million kg of green tea leaves and 10 million kg of made-tea after processing those at the 18 tea processing factories.
“Being directed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her past tenure in 1996 while visiting Panchagarh, the then Deputy Commissioner Rabiul Islam planted tea saplings on Panchagarh Circuit House premises on experimental basis,” Dr Mamun said.
After getting excellent results, a BTB team conducted feasibility study in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts in 1999 and found 16,000 hectares of land suitable for commercial basis tea cultivation.“Tentulia Tea Company Limited (TTCL) first started commercial basis tea cultivation on plain lands in Tentulia upazila of Panchagarh in 2000,” said Dr Mamun, also Project Director of Northern Bangladesh Project of BTB at its Regional Office in Panchagarh.
Witnessing success of TTCL, other companies and farmers started commercial-basis tea farming in 2005 ushering a new prospect in the agriculture economy of Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat districts in the valley.
“For faster expansion of tea farming, BTB launched the Northern Bangladesh Project in 2015 to expand small-holding tea cultivation by bringing more 500 hectares of land under its gardening and implementation of the project will be completed by June next,” he said.
Tea growers Ali Ahsan Prodhan of Sadar upazila and Matiar Rahman of Atwari upazila in Panchagarh said `small-scale gardening-basis’ tea cultivation on plain lands is increasing every year bringing fortunes to many farmers.
President of Bangladesh Small Tea Garden Owners’ Association Amirul Haque Khokan said small-scale gardening-basis’ tea farming has become a profitable venture bringing fortunes to many people in five northern districts.
“Around 25,000 unemployed people, including 15,000 women, are earning better wages from farm-activities and plucking tea-leaves to lead a better life,” Khokan said, adding that tea farming has a brighter prospect in the valley.
Farm-labourers Gokul Hasda and Selina Hembrom of village Buraburi in Tentulia upazila of Panchagarh said they are earning Taka 500 to Taka 600 as daily wages from plucking green-tea leaves.