Timber trade in Nesarabad sees Tk 1,000cr annual sales
The timber trade that has been running on the banks of the Sandhya river in Nesarabad upazila of Pirojpur for decades has emerged as the largest hub for woods in Bangladesh.
Woods worth more than Tk 500 crore are sold every year from the wholesale hub and the activity has become the mainstay of the local economy.
Traders, buyers and government officials say the timber business is the country's largest wood trading hub thanks to lower price, availability, higher quality and water connectivity.
Traders say although the timber business in the area has been going on for more than a hundred years, the main centre on the banks of the Sandhya has been established about 50 years ago.
Woods also come from various districts of the Barishal division alongside neighbouring Bagerhat and Khulna districts.
Selim Hawladar, president of the Swarupkathi Char Kath Babosayee Samity, a forum of timber traders, has been involved in the trade for almost four decades.
He says local timbers are sent to Dhaka, Sylhet, Kishoreganj and Narsingdi through cargo vessels and trawlers. Every day, at least four cargo vessels carry 25,000 to 30,000 cubic feet of wood worth Tk 2 crore.
More than 900 traders are members of the association. Besides, there are at least 5,000 workers involved in various stages of the trade, including loading and unloading.
The timber business has expanded to other parts of the upazila and at least 50,000 people are involved in this profession, said Hawladar.
"It is the main economic activity of Nesarabad." Ruhul Amin, another trader, says the main timber comes from raintree, chambal and mahogany trees.
Mahogany is sold at a price of Tk 2,000 per CFT, raintree at Tk 900 and chambal tree at Tk 500.
There are 91 factories in the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) area under the upazila, according to Nesarabad BSCIC Industrial City Officer Md Shadadat Hossain.
Of them, 40 are involved in the trading of timber products. At least 2,200 workers are employed there, he said.
There are also about 40 sawmills, hundreds of furniture shops, four or five cricket bat factories, and a variety of wood-based factories in the upazila, he said.
Mosharraf Hossain, upazila nirbahi officer of Nesarabad, says the government gets revenue of Tk 60 lakh every year from one point of the Sandhya.
There are 15 other timber trading spots in the upazila, including Swarupkathi Pilot High School, Akolom, Jagannathkathi, Mahmudkathi and Inderhat, said Faruq Hossain, a timber trader in Sutiakathi union under the upazila.
These centres together with the Nesarabad hub see as high as Tk 1,000 crore in annual trade, according to traders.
If all of these centres are brought under the revenue collection system, the government would earn crores of taka, Mosharraf Hossain said.
"The timber business is the livelihood of 50,000 people in the region."