More than 15,000 poor and distressed women have changed their fortune through plucking tea-leaves in tea gardens of five northern districts in the 'Kartoa Valley' ecological zone.
The boosting small-scale gardening-basis tea cultivation on the plain lands has so far created jobs for more than 25,000 rural people, including 15,000 women, in these five sub-Himalayan northern districts.
President of Bangladesh Small Tea Garden Owners' Association Amirul Haque Khokan said the expanding tea farming has ushered in a new hope bringing fortune for farmers in the valley.
"More than 25,000 unemployed people, including 15,000 women, are earning well through farm-activities and plucking tea-leaves to lead better lives even during the Covid-19 pandemic in the valley," he said.
The female labourers, including housewives, widows, divorcees and unemployed young girls, are leading better lives with their family members in these five northern districts of Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat.
Talking to BSS, tea-garden workers Rehana Begum, Shyamoli Rani, Swapna Khatun and Sabiha Begum of Tentulia upazila in Panchagarh said they are taking meals thrice a day, using sanitary latrines, drinking safe water, health care and living peacefully.
Labourers Aleya Khatun, Selina Hembrom, Gokul Hasda and Nur Nahar of village Buraburi in Tentulia upazila said they are earning Taka 500 to Taka 600 as daily wages from plucking green-tea leaves.
Labourers Maksuda Begum, Kohinoor, Muktara Begum, Afroza and Lovely Begum of different villages in the same upazila said they are leading a normal life despite the Covid-19 pandemic by earning better wages through plucking green tea-leaves.
Officials of Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB) at its Panchagarh regional office said an all-time record target of producing 10 million kg of processed tea has been fixed for five districts in the valley this year.
"The 'Kartoa Valley' ecological zone witnessed a record output of 10.30 million kg of processed tea last year (2020) despite the Covid-19 pandemic," Senior Scientific Officer at Bangladesh Tea Research Institute Dr Mohammad Shameem Al Mamun told BSS today.
Dr Shameem, also Project Director of Northern Bangladesh Project of BTB at its Panchagarh regional office, said 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.
As the 'small-scale gardening-basis' tea cultivation on plain lands continues expanding every year, production of processed tea also increases alongside creating more employment for jobless people, mostly women.
"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 processed tea after processing those in factories," Dr Mamun said.
During the current year, tea is being cultivated on more land areas aiming at producing over 45 million kg of green tea leaves and 10 million kg of processed tea after processing those at the 18 tea processing factories.
Tea growers Rafikul Islam of village Pediagochh in Tentulia upazila, Ali Ahsan of Sadar upazila and Matiar Rahman of Atwari upazila in Panchagarh said tea cultivation on plain lands is increasing every year bringing fortunes to many farmers.