Tea cultivation in the flatlands of Panchagarh began in the late 1990s due to its favourable weather and soil but soon expanded to other districts in the region
Tea production in the northern belt hit record levels last year, largely benefitting thousands of local farmers as well as the economy as a whole, at a time when so many other industries were suffering from the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to data from the Bangladesh Tea Board's (BTB) regional office in Panchagarh, ten large-scale tea plantations and over 7,000 small-scale tea gardens collectively produced around 10.3 million kilograms of tea in the flatlands of Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat in 2020.
Last year, the country's overall tea production was 86.39 million kilograms, of which nearly 12% was produced in the flatlands of the five northern districts.
Tea production saw an increase of 711,000 kilograms in 2020, compared to the previous year. Besides, tea was cultivated on around 10,170 acres of land last year, which is roughly a 15% increase compared to 2019.
According to official data, 7,337 large and small scale tea gardens collectively produced 51.28 million kilograms of tea leaves last year. There are eighteen tea processing factories spread across Thakurgaon and Panchagarh. The tea grown there is also exported to many countries.
Mozahidul Hannan Nipun, manager of Maitri Tea Industries Limited, said his factory in Panchagarh produced the most tea in North Bengal last year. “This tea factory produced over 2.5 million kilograms of tea, which is a quarter of the total tea produced in Panchagarh district.”
Md Shamim Al Mamun, senior scientific officer, BTB’s Panchagarh Regional Office, said: “The flatlands of Panchagarh and its regional districts are very suitable for tea. Its cultivation and production rise every day. We are offering various incentives to encourage farmers to expand tea cultivation. Farmers are being provided with improved varieties of saplings at low cost and training through workshops.
“A pest management laboratory has been set up at this regional office and here tea growers are given various forms of scientific assistance in solving various issues with diseases and insect control.”
“Small farmers want to cultivate tea as the raw leaves have a fair price in the market. It has alleviated poverty and brought about socio-economic development of the people of the northern districts as well as provided employment to a large number of people,” he said.