A drought-like situation caused by the lack of rain in the current season has partially affected tea plants and saplings in the gardens and smaller tea fields of Panchagarh. Tea production may be reduced due to absence of rainfall in the current dry season in Panchagarh. Red spiders and other insects have already attacked the tea plants as well – usually these insects are kept away at this time of the year by rainfall in different gardens. The gradually increasing temperature is also harmful to the plants.
Tea garden owners and officials of the Bangladesh Tea Board have expressed apprehension about attaining the production target in the current production season. Development officer of the Panchagarh regional office of Bangladesh Tea Board, Amir Hossain, said that a drought-like situation is prevailing in the region, caused by absence of rain. Tea experts and officials suggested tea garden owners and small farmers to provide sufficient irrigation and to spray insecticides as per direction of experts to save the plants during the adverse weather.
The officials and garden owners said their leaves are not growing properly in most of the gardens and small scale tea fields where the farmers are failing to provide necessary irrigation during the unfavourable situation. Most of the water reservoirs have dried up for want of seasonal rainfall and this has adversely affected the growth of the tea leaves and the newly pruned branches and saplings in the gardens. The fluctuation of temperature between day and night period also affected the leaves. Agricultural produce is always vulnerable to changing atmospheric conditions and the weather, and this has particularly been adverse for farmers in Bangladesh in recent times due to erratic changes.
In some places, buds (kuri) of tea plants are drying up and turning reddish due to lack of rainfall. Experts and officials said sufficient rainfall is needed for good tea production after pruning tea plants in the month of January, February and March. In 2013, during Mach-April, there was 100 mm rainfall in the areas. During a visit to different tea gardens in Panchgarh, this correspondent saw tea plants have turned brown due to the drought like situation coupled with high temperature. In many gardens tea leaves collection have slowed down.
Owner of Mahananda Tea Garden Harun-Or-Rashid Babu told the Daily Star that pest attack has increased due to prolonged dry weather. Red spiders attack is more than in previous years. If the situation is continuing production target would not be achieved in the current season. Manager of Dahuk Tea Estate Md. Yasin Ali told this correspondent that red spiders attacked the plants due to drought. Yasin Ali said that usually about 34-36 rounds of tea leaves are collected from a good garden in a season. Several good gardens can pluck 40-42 rounds over the year but this current season these statistics would be much lower due to unfavourable weather.
Manager of Green Agro Ltd. Md. Faridul Islam said that usually 1000 kg raw tea leaves are supplied during the period of April-May, but this season they were compelled to stop operation due to shortage of tea leaves. Deputy Director of Department of Agricultural Extension Md. Nazrul Islam said that, in last three months, there was no rainfall in Panchagarh causing the soil to lose humidity which has been hampered different crops including tea. The situation would improve soon if there is rainfall.
"Around 3,200 acres of land have been brought under tea cultivation comprising 403 small gardens, 16 medium gardens and 23 Tea estates in the district," said Amir Hossain, tea development officer of Panchagarh. The district produced 14.65 lac kg of tea from over 62.56 lakh kg of green tea leaves last year, emerging as the third largest tea producer in the country, according to Bangladesh Tea Board officials.