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Betel leaf revolution occurs in Rajshahi

Published : Saturday, 1 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 83

Betel leaf revolution occurs in Rajshahi

Betel leaf revolution occurs in Rajshahi

RAJSHAHI, May 31: Betel leaf cultivation is making revolution in the district, known as kingdom of mango.

Over one lakh families are dependent on the betel leaf farming in the district.

Along with local marketing, betel leaf is exported to foreign countries from Rajshahi.

The government has taken an initiative to set up a betel leaf research centre in Mohanpur Upazila of the district.  Besides, an application has been made to the ministry of industry for recognition of betel leaf as GJ (Geographical Indicator).

According to sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE)-Rajshahi, there are 4,496 hectares (ha) of betel leaf orchards in the district. In the last year, the total betel leaf production was 76,678 tonnes.

In betel leaf cultivation, the highest position is held by Bagmara with 1,560 ha, followed by Mohanpur with 1,317 ha.
Betel leaf orchards require 3-4 times rearing, and 20 labourers are required per bigha.

Large-size betel leaf is called Mota Paan while the most smallest size one is called Sapta. The middle-size betel leaf is called Jhara.

According to field sources, there are about 39,000 betel leaf growers in Rajshahi District; about 40,000-45,000 families are engaged in orchards as labourers, traders and transport operators; there are 20-25 big betel leaf haats in the district including Mochmoil in Bagmara Upazila, Ekdiltala, Pakuria, Mougachhi, and Dhuril in Mohanpur Upazila,  and Dawkandi Bazar in Mohanpur Upazila. Of the total betel leaf growers, 17,850 are at Mohanpur.   
A visit to wide fields in Mohanpur and Poba upazilas found straw-fenced orchards of betel leaf; growers have raised betel leaf orchards in fields of paddy, pointed gourd, bitter gourd, bottle gourd and other vegetable fields.

Orchards have been wrapped with blue-coloured nets.

Growers said, betel leaf can be cultivated for the whole year.

A sexagenarian of Horihor Para area Azhar Ali has been cultivating betel leaf  since his teenage; he is earning about Tk 25,000-30,000 per month from his orchard of 15 katha.

He said, he can sell betel leaf twice in a week.

A woman Shabana Begum said, "In economic terms one bigha of betel leaf orchard is higher than 10 bigha of land. If betel leaf orchards sustain, we get peace. If orchards die, we also die."

To set up a betel leaf research  centre, a committee has been formed about 5-6 months back; committee members have inspected two places for the research centre; this upazila is 30 kilometre north  off the district.

A door of huge potential will open if the research centre is set up, local public representatives and agriculture officials said.

In Mohanpur Upazila, Mowgachhi Union Chairman Md Al-Amin Biswas said, already a revolution is going on in betel leaf production; 70 per cent people here do betel leaf cultivation; also paddy, potato, and betel leaf are largely cultivated here; especially, betel leaf seems mostly valuable.

"We also cultivate betel leaf. It is profitable crop. If there is betel leaf research centre or preserving system like potato, growers will be benefitted, he added.

Upazila Agriculture Officer Mustakima  Khatun said, surely betel leaf is a cash crop; it has also many medicinal qualities; if there is a research centre, growers can produce betel leaf without any problem; besides, foreign currency can be fetched.
Deputy Director of DAE-Rajshahi Mozdar Hossain said, "Benefit is coming from the betel leaf; but we want to cultivate ginger and turmeric in shades of two lines in orchards; it will be introduced this year; some extra profits will come from these co-crops; there are  some problems in betel leaf orchards; these problems will decrease; there will a change; and then people will be more interested in raising betel leaf orchards.

At present, betel leaves are exported abroad, he added.

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