Betel leaf bonanza
Desk Report: In Bagerhat, prosperity grows in leafy bursts of resplendent green. Betel vines have performed to their utmost this year; enough to please even the most hardened farmer, reports Daily Star.
“Last year we suffered a lot from excessive rain and water logging,” says Rahaman Seikh, a betel grower from Karapara in Sadar upazila. “This year is quite the opposite. Harvests are very good since the weather has been favourable. I hope we will overcome last year’s losses.”
“Most people in our village grow betel leaf,” says Sujit Shome from Khalishakhali village in Kachua upazila. “Thanks to this year’s harvest, our family will eat well through the whole year. I have already sold at least Tk 1 lakh of leaves from my farm.”
Village after village, across Fakirhat, Mollahat, Sadar and parts of Kachua upazila the situation is repeated: the abundant harvest has brought rejuvenated solvency to many households.
For many farming families it represents the fulfilment of a long-awaited promise. Betel was specifically chosen for its potential profitability when traditional crops like paddy and jute were proving less profitable than once they had been.
The burgeoning betel leaf industry has generated numerous employment opportunities for farmhands too.
At Mollahat and Jatrapur, two distribution sites have been established. As a measure of the ‘good times in green’, up to seven truckloads of betel leaf are being shipped daily towards Dhaka and beyond.
“Betel leaf production is increasing day by day,” says Bagerhat Sadar upazila’s agriculture officer Sanjay Kumar Das. “This year a total of 485 hectares has been devoted to betel leaf crops in this upazila.”
“Betel leaf has become one of the most economical crops in Bagerhat,” says the district’s agriculture department deputy director Aftab Uddin. “Not only has the harvest been good but demand is also strong. Betel leaf is used in ceremonies and at festivals. It is also exported from here to markets in the Middle East.”
“Betel leaf farming is playing a significant role in Bagerhat’s economic development,” he adds.