POST TIME: 31 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Tea cultivation

Tea cultivation

Tea is the second largest export oriented cash crop of Bangladesh, following jute. The industry accounts for 1 percent of national GDP.  European traders established the first sub-continental tea gardens in the port city of Chittagong in 1890, when plantations were set up beside the Chittagong Club using Chinese tea plants from the Calcutta Botanical Garden. In fact, Chittagong is the birthplace of the Bangladesh tea industry. Commercial cultivation of tea began in the Mulnicherra Estate in Sylhet in 1857. Plantations also flourished in Comilla and Panchagarh which is in North Bengal. Panchagarh is the only third tea zone in Bangladesh and most demanded tea is cultivated here.

According to a report of this newspaper on Friday, with increased cultivation of tea in Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts, the production will help meet the local demand. The soil, climate, temperature, rainfall and other factors of the region are congenial for tea cultivation. Besides, the border belt of Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat districts are suitable for tea cultivation as the soil of the area is loamy and rain water gets easily drained out. What is encouraging is that the small and marginal farmers of Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts also started cultivation on a small scale. In Panchagarh district, many small farmers started cultivating tea a few years ago.

Once a major world exporter, Bangladesh is now a net importer of tea. The rise of the Bangladeshi middle class has increasingly driven the industry to focus on a lucrative domestic market. The sector is today dominated by Bangladeshi conglomerates. In 2012, Bangladesh recorded its highest production of tea, at 63.85 million kilograms. The country has over 56,846 hectares of land under tea cultivation, up from 28,734 hectares in 1947. In the tea gardens of Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts, the planters have employed both male and female labourers at wages ranging from Tk 170 to Tk 200 a day. If the production increases further in the two districts, the growers hope they would be able to export tea after meeting the local demand.

Tea production should be increased further for meeting the requirements.  The persons involved in tea cultivation should be provided financial incentives. Bank loans on easy terms and conditions can give impetus in this regard. The present government has done a lot for the improvement of various sectors in the country. The problems engulfing the tea industry should be identified and solved.