Farmers in Hili have been able to get a high yield of betel leaves, unlike last year
Given the favourable weather conditions and mild impact of winter chill, farmers in Hili have been able to get a high yield of betel leaves, unlike last year.
Last year, most of the betel leaves produced rotted of were subjected to crop diseases. However, this year has brought smiles to the faces of farmers, who are anticipating good prices.
The additional advantage of shutting down betel leaf imports from India has also benefitted them. But they have demanded the government permanently cease betel leaf imports, so that the local farmers can sell off their produce.
According to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) offices in Hakimpur upazila, most of the betel leaf orchards are in the border areas of Ghasuria and Ghanshyampur; and they are increasing by the day.
Last year, 255 orchards grew betel leaves on a 28 hectare stretch of land; but this year, 375 orchards are growing the leaves over 36 hectares.
Saiful Islam, a betel leaf farmer in Ghasuria, said last year the intense winter caused their produce to rot at an alarming rate, forcing most of the farmers to throw away their produce.
Those who tried to sell their betel leaves could not get good prices, which is why many farmers opted out of growing betel leaves this year.
“However, the farmers who persevered this year are being rewarded with favourable weather conditions,” he added, “the absence of Indian betel leaves on the market is also creating greater demand for our betel leaves.”
Several farmers say 250g of small-sized betel leaves fetch between Tk2,500-3,000, while the bigger ones fetch Tk5,000-7,000. They are expecting better prices, now that Indian betel leaves are not available on the market.
Nazmul Hossain, a wholesale purchaser of betel leaves from Rajshahi Sadar, said the prices have gone up this year by Tk400-500.
The district’s betel leaves are distributed across the country to Dhaka, Rangpur, Dinajpur, etc.
Jahangir Hossain, a retailer of betel leaves in Hili bazar, said the spike in betel leaf prices is posing a problem, as a roll of leaves, which was Tk60-70 previously, is now Tk150-200.
“We are forced to sell a betel leaf for Tk5—despite the price hike—as nobody will buy them if we increase our price even by Tk1,” he added.
Hakimpur upazila agriculture officer Shamima Nazneen said this year, 375 orchards are growing betel leaves on 36 hectares, an increase from 255 orchards last year.
Her office is providing logistical support to help betel leaf farmers increase their production capacity, she added.
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