RAJSHAHI, Jan 18: The demand for sweet betel leaf produced in Bagmara and Mohanpur upazilas have been increasing day by day. Now, by covering most markets of Rangpur, Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet, Chittagong and Rajshahi, the locally produced betel-leaf is being exported to various Middle Eastern countries including in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Iran and Iraq.
The cultivation of betel-leaf in those upazilas has also been increased due to increased demand of this chewing delicacy in local and international markets and an increased market price of it. More and more farmers are now being inclined to cultivate betel-leaf in the upazilas and during the current season, in addition to existing hundreds, 600 more new betel leaf gardens have been set up in the upazilas.
According to DAE, Bagmara, betel leaf is produced in more than 8,500 bighas of land in the upazila. Due to a satisfactory price of the item and its increased demand in local and international markets, a good number of garden have been set up in the area during this season which have surpassed all previous records. The sources further said, once betel-leaf used to produce only in Shuvodanga, Ganipur and Sreepur unions of the upazila but now in almost all unions including Tahirpur Municipal area, Maria, Hamirkutsa,Jogipara, Govindapara, Nordas, Basupara and Auchpara unions betel leaf have been produced commercially.
According to Agriculture department sources, more than 10,000 families of Gonipur, Sreepur, Aushpara, Basupara, Govindapara and Shuodanga unions of Bagmara were being directly or indirectly reliant on betel-leaf cultivation and trading. All those families are now solvent and were maintaining all the family costs such as food, clothing, education and other necessary cost from the profit of betel leaf cultivation.
Betel leaf farmer Abu Zafar of Monopara village under Nordas union said production cost is increased in recent days. Betel leaf cultivation requires high cost. Yet, due to increase in demand of betel leaf in the country and abroad, the number of betel leaf farm was increasing in the upazila.
Afzal Hossain of Bujruk Kola village under Shuvodanga union informed, it costs Taka 70,000 to 80,000 to make a betel leaf farm on a bigha of land while by selling betel leaf produced in one bigha of land, a farmer can earn Tk 500,000 to Tk 700,000.
Betel Leaf trader Abul Hossain at Taherpur said Bagmara and Mohanpur upazilas of the country are famous for producing best quality, sweet betel leaf in the country. Betel leaf produced here being very tasty and best in quality, it has a tremendous demand abroad including in all middle eastern countries, India, Pakistan, Iran, Romania, Malaysia, Singapore and China.
Betel leaf farmers complained, despite having a great prospect, betel leaf farmers were very helpless when pest attacks betel leaf farm. They complained, there having no research on containing pest attack on betel leaf plants, the virulent pest attack some times destroy all plants of a farm causing a huge loss for a farmer. They demanded proper training for the betel leaf farmers in upazila levels under Agriculture Extension department so that farmers are saved from the attack of virulent pest attack.
Razibur Rahman, upazila agrciulture officer of Bagmara, said betel leaf farming and trading is profitable now a day. The interest on betel leaf farming in the upazila is continuously increasing in the upazila. DAE was also taking extensive measures so that growers can produce quality, disease-free and tasty betel leaf in their gardens.
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