Tea Plantation in Bangladesh
Tea plantation in Bangladesh produces and exports a large quantity of high quality tea. Tea plantations are also the major eco tourism attractions bringing in a secondary revenue stream. Most of the 163 tea estates in Bangladesh are located in the North-eastern region. Sylhet, Srimangal Moulvibazar, Habigonj, Chittagong, Panchagarh are the main tea growing areas in Bangladesh.
Tea Plantation in Bangladesh – the Heart
The tea industry in Bangladesh annually produces about 55 -60 million kg of tea. It ranks 9th in the list of 30 tea producing countries of the world. Half of the tea produced is consumed at home and rest is exported to various countries likes USA, UK, Russia, Pakistan, Kuwait, Japan, Greece, India, France, Germany and many more. Bangladesh earns 2,000 million taka (Bangladesh Currency) every year from tea export, contributing about 0.8% of the total Bangladesh GDP. Bangladesh’s tea industry constitutes about 3.3 % of the country’s total employment by employing 0.15 million people directly in the tea industry and many more people are employed indirectly in other sectors related to tea.
Sylhet & Srimangal – the two major Tea plantation estates of Bangladesh
Tea is the heart of Sylhet division. Situated in the north eastern part of Bangladesh, it produces over 40 million kg of tea annually from more than 150 tea estates spread over 40,000 hectares. Sylhet is known for its scenic beauty which is a prime attraction for the tourists. With annual rainfall of 5000mm, the climate in this area is mild and cool and is best suited for tea plantation. Known as “the land of two leaves and a bud”, its terraced tea gardens, eye-catching orange groves and pineapple plantations, tropical jungles and exotic flora and fauna attracts thousands of tourists, providing additional revenue as part of being the eco-tourism destination.
Srimangal is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh. Situated about 80 km from Sylhet, Srimangal is the actual center of tea plantation in Bangladesh. The Tea Research Institute is situated in Srimangal which is open to visitor all throughout the year. Lush green mountains covered with rich tea-plantations, tropical forests, waterfalls streaming down from the hills and lakes cutting through the greenery- all add to the attractions of this area.
Story of workers in Bangladesh’s Tea Plantations
The workers at the tea plantations are one of the most exploited workers with working hours ranging from morning till late night, the wagers received being only $0.47 a day. Such miserable pay severely affects the daily lives of the tea workers. If compared with wages of the Indian tea workers, the wages of Bangladeshi tea plantation workers is much lower. Nearly 300,000 workers are employed on the tea estates of which over 75% are women. Employers prefer to engage women for plucking tea leaves since they do a better job and are paid less than the men.
The tea worker communities are one of the most vulnerable people of Bangladesh. They deserve special attention of the State. But unfortunately they continue to remain socially excluded, low-paid, illiterate, deprived and disconnected. These conditions allow the profiteers from the tea industry to continue exploiting them. Deprived and exploited, the majority of the workers of tea plantation in Bangladesh live an inhuman life.
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