Tea Garden Pays for Education
Munni Khatun, a first year honors student, Mitu Khatun – a HSC exam candidate, Ety Khatun – a student of class nine and Smrity Khatun – a student of class four are the daughters of a late freedom fighter who have set up an example by building a tea garden on 30 decimals of land next to their homestead at the Tiper Bazar village of the Sarpukur Union at the Aditmari upazila in the district of Lalmonirhat.
S. Dilip Roy
They look after their tea garden in their free time with the help of their mother (Laila Bewa, aged 55) and all proceeds from the tea garden are used for their education. They have also been encouraging other farmers to start cultivating tea. Many farmers in the village have already started cultivating tea on their abandoned land.
Laila Bewa said that her husband – freedom fighter Moqbul Hossain was a NGO representative. He died in January 2008 leaving them with 10 Bighas land (each bigha equal to 30 decimal) around their homestead. They have six daughters and two of them - Usa Begum, 35, and Mila Begum, 30, were married when their father was still alive. She started her new life with her four daughters after death of her husband in 2008.
Laila Bewa said, “My husband Moqbul Hossain started tea cultivation on 4 decimals of land next to our homestead back in October 2007. He always wanted to build a tea estate on 5 bighas of land but his dream was left unfulfilled. He died before getting any benefits from the tea garden. After his death, our four daughters Munni, Mitu, Ety and Smrity took the initiative to expand the tea garden and in doing so, they spread the tea garden from 4 decimals of land to 30 decimals. My daughters have always taken good care of the tea garden, and seldom ask me for help.”
Now the four daughters get an average of 40 kilograms of tea leaf from the garden every month. They sell 1 kilogram of tea leaf at Tk. 100 to 125 from their residence. They earn Tk. 4,000 to 5,000 from selling tea leaves. All of their income is spent on their education. People from different villages come to their house to purchase tea leaves. One of the four daughters Munni Khatun said, “Sometime we are unable to sell our harvested tea leaves due to shortage of customers.” They had to invest Tk. 100,000 at the beginning to start cultivating tea on 30 decimals of land and there was no need to invest again. After investing once, tea garden only needed proper care.
Another daughter Mitu Khatun said, “Our father always dreamed of the tea garden. He used to tell us that he would build a tea estate in the village, and it would once again bring glory to our family. But my father passed away before fulfilling his dream. Since then the four of us have been trying our level best to fulfill his dream.” Harunur Rashid, Foyzer Rahman, Abdul Jolil – locals of the village along with others said that four daughters of the late Moqbul Hossain are never idle, they are hard workers. Before going to educational institutions and after returning home, they always go to their tea garden, take care of it and in return the garden gives them a good profit.
“After watching their tea garden, I have started cultivating tea on 10 decimals of land next to my homestead in the same village. I take always ask for advice from the four sisters on how to take care of my tea garden,” said Yasin Ali, a farmer from the same village as the girls.
One of the four sisters Ety Khatun said, “If we get the market facility and get interest free loan along with technical support we will expand our land for tea cultivating. We want to set a rare example in the district through better tea cultivation; we want to build awareness among the farmers about tea cultivation.”
Another sister Smrity Khatun said, “I have been trained by my elder sisters on how to take care of our tea garden. If all of my sisters go away for their education, I will be able to take care of our tea garden. My mother will help, so I won't face any problems.” Their mother Laila Bewa stated that, she cultivates different crops on other land with the help of her daughters. “I have no son, but I have no sorrow as my daughters support me like any son would. Their activities bring joy to my heart. All of my daughters are bright students in their institutions. All four of them get A-grades in their exams. I hope my daughters will bring a rare positive response in the agricultural society,” she prayed.
The agriculturist of the Aditmari Upazila Agriculture Extension Department (AED) in Lalmonirhat – M. Jaman Shaheen said, “The lands at Tiper Bazar village area are most favorable for tea cultivation. The late freedom fighter's daughters have already set an example in the village by cultivating tea and greatly benefitting from it. Agriculture officials are always providing advice and technical support to them.”
(R) thedailystar.net 2012