Mar 03, 2010 – Boosting tea-orange farming ushers in new economic era in two northern districts – By Mamun Islam – BSS [same news in Independent]

Massive steps have been taken for boosting the expanding small-scale tea and orange farming sectors that has already got a stronger footing bringing fortunes to hundreds in sub-Himalayan Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts. The government has taken a Taka 100-crore special package program for boosting the growing small-scale tea and also enhanced the ongoing five-year term expanded orange farming there with possibilities for expansion in the adjoining areas. Under the Taka 100-crore program being implemented by Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB), the small and marginal farmers are being provided with training on the latest technologies for tea farming, loans, tea saplings and necessary inputs, officials said. Besides, the government has been providing necessary supports including quality saplings, training and technologies to the farmers under the ongoing five- year term expanded orange cultivation program from 2006. As a result, farming of tea and orange has been expanding faster in the sub- Himalayan districts bringing huge changes in the socio-economic conditions of the people. The prospective tea sector has already created opportunities for hundreds of working women to change their fate by achieving self- reliance through earning wages as plucking workers in tea gardens of the officially recognized hird tea zone in the country. Presently, nearly 7,500 skilled and unskilled workers, mostly women, have been working in about 260 tea gardens, including 18 big estates, 13 medium-size and 229 small-scale gardens set up on about 2,200 acres in Panchagarh alone.

There are tremendous prospects for expanding tea sector and creating job opportunities to enhance economic activities further, president of Panchagarh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iqbal Kaiser Mintu and Development Officer of BTB Amir Hossain said. About 5.37 lakh kg tea was produced during the last season and a total of about seven lakh kg tea is expected to produce in Panchagarh alone this season, BTB officials said. Small-scale tea farmer Mozahedul Hassan, Abdur Rahman, Esahaq Ali Mandal, Golam Kibria and Mostafa Jamal and Motiar Rahman recently told BSS that they have been farming tea on their lands and lifting adequate tea leaves every week from the gardens. Female labourers Mohsina, Bulbuli Begum, Aklima, Morsheda, Sabina Yasmin, Nasrine Begum, Rozina Begum, and Halima said that they are hopeful that the authorities will take necessary steps for expanding the growing tea sector further in the region. Like in the tea sector, successful and boosting orange farming on commercial basis has also ushered in a new era in the economy of the sub-Himalayan districts in recent years since 2006. Presently, over 80,000 orange trees have been growing in 93 orange orchards set up in 104 hectares land and homesteads in Panchagarh and more 30,000 orange plants in the 48 hectares land in adjoining Thakurgaon. The agriculture departments have planted 10,000 orange plants in the exhibition plots and produced 50,000 orange saplings last year to assist the people in farming oranges in their orchards, homesteads and other places, officials said.

Presently, about 50 tonnes of orange are being produced annually in these districts where plenty of orange will be produced from 2011 to meet the local demand and export to the other parts of the country, local experts, officials and farmers said. According to the Orange Development Project (ODP) Office sources, a total of 1,200 fruit giving orange plants were looked after and those gave excellent yields this season and 1,500 farmers and agriculturists were provided training on orange farming. The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has also taken steps in expanding and popularizing orange farming in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon since 2006 and so far trained over 6,000 farmers to cultivate oranges. Garden development officers Mizanur Rahman and Asim Kumar Paul of the ODP said that commercial orange farming has bright prospects as the soil, topography, annual rainfalls and acidic PH contents are favourable there like the adjoining areas in India. Talking to BSS, orange growers Asir Uddin Ahammed, Achinta Kumar Karkun, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Jitendra Nath, Salah Uddin, Mohir Uddin, Kakka Pradhan, Abdur Rahman and Abdul Jalil of different Panchagarh villages narrated their successes. “Increased tea and orange farming will further enhance economic activities bringing more solvency with a positive change in life and living standard of the local backward people ushering in a new hope for their future generations,” local experts said.


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