Tea sector changing fortune for 8,500 distressed women

Tea sector changing fortune for 8,500 distressed women

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The expanding tea sector has created huge jobs in the tea gardens of the sub-Himalayan Panchagarh district for over 8,500 extremely poor, unemployed and distressed women to change their fortune in recent years.Earlier, the unemployed rural women had to live in utter miseries even a decade ago and they are now leading better life through plucking green tealeaves in the officially recognised third tea zone of Panchagarh in the country.According to the female tea-garden workers, including unemployed young girls, housewives, widows and divorcees, the prospective tea sector grows fast there creating more jobs every year to ensure their livelihoods.Talking to BSS, female labourers Merina, Afroza, Aklima, Shukla Rani, Motahera and Kulsum of Tentulia upazila said they are earning daily wages of Taka 250 on an average as plucking workers in the tea gardens or fields to live better.Tea-garden workers Mahfuza, Sonali, Shyamoli, Swapna and Kulsum said they are now taking meals thrice a day, using sanitary latrines, drinking safe water, taking health care and living peacefully though they lived in extreme poverty in the pasts.Labourers Amina, Romena, Maksuda, Nilima and Sabera said they are earning better wages through plucking tea-laves to live now better with ensured livelihoods though they had hard days with no job opportunity in the pasts.Supervisor of Moynaguri Tea Company Limited Nazrul Islam said each of the female tea-leaves labourers generally plucks 80 to 100 kg green tea-leaves everyday to earn Taka 250 or even more per day.According to Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB) sources, the tea sector has been growing fast with increased production every year to change economic condition of the common people, farmers and poor people, including working women.The average tea production is increasing by 100,000 kg annually since 2005 as its small-scale gardening basis cultivation has already become highly profitable and popular among the local farmers.Tea in now being cultivated on about 3,500 acres land in 526 tea gardens, including 26 big estates, 17 medium-sized and 483 small-scale gardens in Panchagarh as its cultivation has also been expanding in the adjoining districts.Assistant Tea Development Officer at BTB’s Panchagarh Regional Office Minhajur Rahman said tea farming increases on ‘small-scale gardening basis’ there since beginning of its cultivation launched in 2000 by the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.He said a record quantity of 14.21 lakh kg of fine quality tea was produced in 2014 against 14.55 lakh kg in 2013 and 11.41 lakh kg produced in 2012 in Panchagarh and predicted further increase of tea production during the current year.Former President of Panchagarh Chamber Iqbal Kaiser Mintu said the growing tea sector enhances empowerment of the rural women through creating jobs for over 12,000 people including 8,500 distressed and unemployed women so far.He said commercial tea cultivation on ‘small-scale gardening basis’ has got stronger footage in Panchagarh as the small, marginal and medium farmers are earning better profits through selling green tealeaves to the six tea processing factories.According to Project Director of Kartoa Tea Associate Ltd Shah Alam Bhuiyan, the tea sector has been expanding in Panchagarh creating more jobs for local people, including female labourers every year, bringing solvency to their families.Panchagarh Sadar upazila chairman Anowar Sadat Samrat said the female labourers are now earning better to help their families through plucking tea-leaves though they had no such opportunity and almost all of them were jobless in the pasts.“Side by side leading a better life, they are using sanitary latrines, drinking safe water, preventing child marriage and dowry, taking health care services, living peacefully because of their daily earnings and their children are going to schools,” he said. -BSS, Rangpur

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