BTRI has formally begun tea production for 2019 at its black tea factory
The country's tea production is likely to increase by a record margin in 2019 due to favourable weather conditions, said tea industry insiders.
Md Zahirul Islam, general manager of privately-owned M Rahman Tea Land Company in Sreemangal, said: "This time we are hopeful that we will see a much better yield than last year as the weather has been very good since the beginning this year's tea season."
"If everything persists on the current path, the country might witness another tea bumper crop. Plus, if we can get the price as good as last year, we might be able to secure a hefty profit margin," he added.
Regarding the annual extension of tea plantations, he said: "the Bangladesh Tea Board has made a 2.5% annual extension mandatory. We try to extend plantations even further after fulfilling the requirement."
Golam Shibli, chairman of Finley tea company's Sylhet branch, said: "We got time-befitting rainfall this year and if the trend continues, we are about to set another record in tea production. There is a demand of about 85-90 million kilograms of tea in the country. We are very hopeful that we will meet it this year."
Regarding price, Shibli said: "We got good value last year and hope for more this time around."
Regarding tea imports, he said: "Low-quality tea, imported from India, has damaged the good name of our tea in the market place. However, it is not too late for quality control if the government pays heed to this matter."
Kanu Lal and Sunita Baroi, workers of the MR Khan tea garden and Bharaura tea gardens, respectively, said by this time in any other years, it would have been difficult to pick 2kg of tea leaves from the garden. However, they have already collected around 5kg tea this year due to timely rain.
Number of tea gardens and average production
• There are 166 tea gardens in the country. Of them, 93 are in Moulvibazar district.
• Around 8.21 crore kilograms of tea were yielded from all the tea plantations last year, according to Bangladesh Tea Board sources.
• The yield was 7.89 crore kilograms in 2017 and 8.50 crore kilograms in 2016.
• Average tea production stands at 8.20 crore kilograms in the last three years.
In the beginning of the 2018 tea season—February to March—people in the tea sector were concerned about production due to a lack of rain.
Though the production target was set at 7.23 crore kilograms for 2018, around 6.67 crore kilograms tea were produced—in nine months—till September. In the end, tea production crossed the target limit by around 89 lakh kilograms.
According to sources at the Project Development Unit (PDU) of the Sreemangal Tea Board, the scope of tea cultivation was gradually extended as part of a development strategy adopted in 2009.
Tea gardening was initiated in Ruma upazila of Bandarban. The Bangladesh Tea Research Institute (BTRI) has been training the locals extensively about the cultivation process and precautionary measures. Cutting-edge technology is also being used in the farming process. Tea production was bumped up, despite adverse weather conditions.
Meanwhile, BTRI formally began tea production for 2019, at its black tea factory, on April 8.
BTRI Director Mohammad Ali, former Director Md Mainuddin Ahmed, Chief Scientific Officer Ismail Hossain were present at the inaugural program, among others.