People serving as caretakers of plantations under the government's social afforestation programme in Bashtoil Range of Mirzapur upazila under Tangail district pose for photograph with the cheques they received as benefit for the work at a programme last week. PHOTO: STAR
The government's social afforestation programme brings monetary benefit to thousands of poor people who contribute to preservation and development of plantations on lands allocated by the forest department.
A total of 1,22,000 hectares of land have been brought under the programme in the district, mostly in Madhupur, Sakhipur, Ghatail and Mirzapur upazilas, and 15,948 beneficiaries, including a large number of women, have already got a total of Tk 75 crore 62 lakh 23,530.
The beneficiaries, each serving as caretaker of a 250-decimal social afforestation plot, got 45 percent of the total yield benefit.
The money was distributed in two 10-year rotations -- one from 1989-1990 to 1999-2000 and the other from 2002-2003 to 2012-2013.
Last week, 29 beneficiaries received a total of Tk 36 lakh as profit at a function at Bashtoil Range Office in Mirzapur upazila.
“I worked regularly and spent Tk 20,000 for fertiliser to take care of a 250-decimal-plot of acacia trees. Now I am feeling very happy after getting a cheque of Tk 1 lakh 41 thousand and 975. I will spend the money for renovating my house,” said Rokeya Begum, 40, of Patharghata village.
Joy Tara, 35, and Habi Begum, 50, of Tarafpur village, received cheques of Tk 1,09,350 and 81,000 respectively for similar work.
They said they will spend the money for the schooling of their kids.
Farmer Fazar Ali, 50, of the same village is also happy to get Tk 1 lakh 57 thousand.
He, however, expressed disappointment as the ministry concerned has decided to allocate only a 100-decimal plot each under the social afforestation programme from the next phase.
Tangail Deputy Commissioner Mahbub Hossain handed over the cheques to the beneficiaries at the function at Bashtoil and addressed there as the chief guest.
"Social afforestation programme is gaining popularity as it helps to improve the condition of poor people. We prefer women for the purpose as they take better care of the trees. They also spend the money wisely for their family,” Abu Naser Khan, divisional forest officer in Tangail, said at the function.