Minimum tea leaf price set for northern region

Tea production in the northern region started from March with a target of producing 18 million kilograms of processed tea this year. Last year, a record 14.5 million kg of tea was produced in the northern plains, making it the country’s second largest tea producing region after Sylhet. Photo: collected

“>



Tea production in the northern region started from March with a target of producing 18 million kilograms of processed tea this year. Last year, a record 14.5 million kg of tea was produced in the northern plains, making it the country’s second largest tea producing region after Sylhet. Photo: collected

The minimum price for raw tea leaves grown in Panchagarh was set at Tk 18 per kilogram (kg) on ​​Wednesday following recent protests by local farmers demanding fair value for their products.

Tea farmers in the district had gathered at the Sher-e-Bangla intersection of the Panchagarh-Dhaka highway last Sunday to protest against the low prices paid by processing companies during the current harvest season.

They also alleged that the companies reduced the weight of tea supplied by 15-40% in order to save on purchases.

In this context, Md Jahurul Islam, the Deputy Commissioner of Panchagarh, summoned all relevant stakeholders to a meeting in his office on Wednesday to set a price for the raw tea leaves. Islam chaired the meeting, dubbed the Panchagarh District Tea Leaf Pricing Committee.

Amirul Haque Khokon, Chairman of the Bangladesh Smallholder Tea Producers Association, Dr Mohammad Shameem Al Mamun, Chief Scientific Officer of the Bangladesh Tea Board Regional Office in Panchagarh, leaders of the local factory owners association of tea, various representatives of the public and journalists were present.

Mamun said the tea production season is considered to be the period between March and December.

About 20 tea processing factory owners in Panchagarh and one in Thakurgaon and Lalmonirhat started buying raw tea leaves from March 1 at prices between 22 and 26 taka per kg.

But the price dropped drastically to 12-14 Tk per kg just two months into the harvest, pushing growers into a sharp turn in the process.

Factory owners reduced the total weight of tea leaves supplied by farmers by 15-40% under various pretexts and as a result, producers received less than Tk 10 per kg for their products, which was far less than the production cost.

Finding no alternative, the small tea growers took to the streets to get fair prices and then submitted a plea for it to the Deputy District Commissioner.

The price of tea leaves is usually set based on the average price it receives from 15 auctions, but since only three auctions have been held in the current season, the price of tea leaves Gross was set at Tk 18 per kg this year considering the average rate from the 45 auctions held last year, Mamun said.

Tea growers provide leaves as required by tea factories, which cannot reduce the weight after receiving the leaves provided by growers.

However, plant owners can reduce the weight by up to 10% if the leaves are wet, he added.

Responding to a query, Mamun said that since there is no committee to set the price of raw tea leaves in other northern districts, factory owners in adjacent regions will follow the same price as Panchagarh.

Tea production in the northern region started from March with a production target of 18 million kg of processed tea this year. Last year, a record 14.5 million kg of tea was produced in the northern plains, making it the country’s second largest tea producing region after Sylhet.

In 2021, 1,263.37 acres of land were put under tea cultivation in five northern districts, according to Mamun. Out of the total cultivation area of ​​Panchagarh, 8 registered and 20 unregistered tea estate owners have grown tea on 2,464.21 acres of land while 7,168 marginal smallholders cultivate the plant on 7,283.59 acres of land . In Thakurgaon, tea was planted on 260 acres of land under a tea plantation while 728 smallholders separately cultivated the plant on 1,110.30 acres. Similarly, 96 smallholders cultivated tea on 168.88 acres of land in Lalmonirhat, 40 growers on 78.37 acres in Dinajpur and 35 growers on 68.59 acres in Nilphamari.