A good number of farmers have started profitable cassia leaf (locally called tejpata) cultivation in the narrow demarcation ridges of croplands at Chhinaye and Bidyananda unions in Rajarhat upazila and Kanthalbari union in Sadar upazila under the district.
Several years ago, many farmers in the area started cultivating fast-growing eucalyptus trees in the demarcation paths but now people have become aware of its detrimental effects on soil fertility.
Sadequl Haque Nuru, a former chairman of Chhinaye Union Parishad, began tejpata cultivation in 2013, being inspired by his elder brother Prof Samsul Haque.
“At first, I planted five hundred saplings of tejpata on the demarcation ridges of my croplands, spending Tk 150 per sapling. About 450 saplings survived and after one year, I sold tejpata leaves worth Tk 10,000,” Nuru said.
“Now I have 650 plants. The leaves are sold twice a year. There is no need to use fertilisers and insecticides for the saplings as fertilisers are used normally in the croplands,” he said.
Asad Ali, 59, of Barogram village of Chhinaye union said he planted 100 saplings of cassia leaf in the demarcation path of paddy fields in 2015 and 50 plants have survived.
“I sold leaves worth Tk 500 in first time, Tk 1,500 in second time and Tk 2,000 in third time. I shall plant 100 more plants,” he said.
Shafiqul Islam, 37, a cassia leaf trader of Chhinaye Haat village of the union, said, “I supplied huge graft plants of four varieties of tejpata to the farmers of the unions. Per piece of the graft plants of local variety is old at Tk 50, Sylheti variety at Tk 100, and Barishali variety at Tk 180 to Tk 200.”
“A few months ago, I sold leaves at Tk 1,200 to Tk 2,000 per maund (40 kg) to the traders of other districts. Farmers are getting interested to cultivate it in free spaces beside croplands,” Shafiqul said.
Rajarhat Upazila Agriculture Officer Sasty Chandra Roy said they suggest cultivation of environment-friendly trees like cassia leaves instead of eucalyptus, which is harmful for soil fertility and environment.
“About 40 farmers at Bidyananda, Chhinaye and Kanthalbari unions have planted over 1,250 cassia leaf plants for commercial purpose that sees increase every year. The cultivation, mostly on demarcation ridges croplands, bears good prospect,” he said.