The government has taken a massive Taka 100-crore special package programme for boosting the growing small-scale tea farming that has already become very popular bringing fortunes to many in Panchagarh villages. Under the programme 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 concerned said.
The government initiatives will further prompt economic advancements of the common people, farmers as well as working women, as the small and marginal farmers have been showing more interest in farming the cash crop in the areas. Side by side with the latest assistance, local farmers and experts suggested setting up more tea processing industries, competitive markets for tealeaves and resolving some problems like power crisis for accelerating further growth of the tea sector. The prospective tea sector has 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 third 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. Small-scale tea growers are now happier as the tea processing factories of Tentulia Tea Company Ltd (TTCL) and Karotoa Tea Garden started purchasing green tealeaves at Taka 11 per kg though the rate was only Taka 9.50 in the past. As per a survey conducted by BTB, there is over 16,000 hectares land suitable for tea farming in Panchagarh alone and nearly 2,200 acres have so far been brought under tea farming in the area since 2002. The BTB has taken the special steps, including finding newer areas for tea farming, with a view to further expanding tea farming areas and increasing tea production in the country to meet its growing local demand and increase exports. There are tremendous prospects of the expanding tea sector and creating job opportunities to enhance economic activities further in the region, president of Panchagarh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iqbal Kaiser Mintu said.