General

Thriving tea cultivation creates 20,000 jobs in Kartoa Valley

RANGPUR The thriving small-scale gardening-basis'

tea cultivation has created jobs for over 20,000 unemployed rural people,

mostly women, in the 'Kartoa Valley' ecological zone comprising of five

northern districts.

Officials of Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB) said the 'Kartoa Valley'

ecological zone comprising of Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamari

and Lalmonirhat districts produced an all-time record production of 96-lakh

kg made-tea last year.

Tea cultivation started expanding fast since launching of the 'Expansion

of Small Holding Tea Cultivation in Northern Bangladesh Project' by BTB in

2015 at Taka 4.97 crore to bring another 500 hectares of land under tea

farming within 2020 in the valley.

Talking to BSS, President of Bangladesh Small Tea Garden Owners'

Association Amirul Haque Khokan said tea cultivation on small-scale

gardening-basis' continues changing fortunes of local farmers improving their

living standard.

With continuous expansion of tea cultivation in the valley, some 20,000

rural people, including about 11,000 women, have changed fortune by plucking

green tea-leaves and other agri-activities in tea gardens in the last 11

years, Khokan said.

Though the women earned only Taka 140 to Taka 170 everyday by plucking

green tea-leaves even five years ago, they are now earning Taka 500 to 600 as

daily wages to lead a solvent life with faster expansion of tea cultivation

in the valley.

Earlier, local rural women had to lead miserable life even a decade ago

due to poverty, but they have come out of the vicious cycle of poverty with a

dream of a better future for children following their economic well-being,

Khokan said.

Vice-president of Panchagarh Chamber Mehedi Hasan Khan Babla said the

flourishing tea-based agriculture sector accelerates women empowerment

assisting the women in contributing to their families for living with

dignity.

More than 11,000 female tea workers, including unemployed young girls,

housewives, widows and divorcees are happy as the prospective tea sector is

growing fast creating more jobs to ensure their better livelihoods in the

valley, Babla added.

Talking to BSS, female labourers Aklima of Maynaguri, Phuli of Kandali

Coach, Morium of Guchchhogram, Rozina of Narayangoach and Halima of

Dodhigoach villages in Tentulia upazila of Panchagarh discussed their better

living now.

The green tea-leaves plucking female labourers were earning only Taka

140 to 170 per day while the male labourers earning their per day wages in

between Taka 200 and Taka 250 even five years back.

When we formed groups comprising of 15 to 20 female labourers to pluck

green-tea leaves group-wise and share wages equally, we started getting

double wages between Taka 500 and Taka 600 daily than five to six years ago,

said labourer Nasima Begum.

Senior Scientific Officer at Bangladesh Tea Research Institute Dr.

Mohammad Shameem Al Mamun said the Kartoa Valley produced an all-time record

96-lakh kg made-tea last year against the production of 84.67-lakh kg in 2018

and 54.40-lakh kg in 2017.

Mamun, also Project Director of the Northern Bangladesh Project of BTB,

said owners of nine registered and 19 unregistered gardens and 6,558 small

holders cultivated tea on 8,681 acres of lands producing 4.69-crore kg of

green tea-leaves in 2019 in the valley.

With continuous expansion of tea cultivation on small-scale gardening-

basis', more creating jobs are being created every year for thousands of tea

workers, mostly women, in the valley, Mamun added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)