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Diversify tea to earn more foreign currencies: PM

Diversify tea to earn more foreign currencies: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked all concerned to add value to tea instead of only selling tea leaves in bulk as the demand for diversified tea products is increasing globally. "People's taste has now changed. Different kinds of tea are now available. Produce aroma tea. The demand for teas having various flavours is now very high globally. Special attention is required to this end alongside producing tea," she said. The premier was inaugurating the tea festival as the chief guest marking celebration of the 4th "National Tea Day 2024" at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka on Tuesday (Jun 4) morning, local media reported.

She also conferred the National Tea Award 2024 on different persons, organisations and companies in eight categories.

The PM asked the tea garden owners and tea businessmen to add value to the tea. "If you add value to tea, you will get more money comparing to (only) sale of tea leaves abundantly as the demand for aroma tea is increasing globally day by day," she said.

Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for research to ensure multifaceted use of tea, its production and marketing. "We have to make sure multifaceted use of tea such as aroma tea. We can earn foreign currencies by exporting value added teas," she said.

The premier said research is being conducted to produce tea from jute leaves as experts believe that jute tea can help reduce sugar in blood as its leaves taste bitter. She also suggested using Kanakchapa flavor in tea through research as tulshi tea, jasmine tea, herbal tea and masla tea are available in markets. She asked the tea businessmen to produce zinger, lemon, bay leave, cardamom, cinnamon and clove flavoured tea as well.

As the PM reached the venue, she was received by children with a Monipuri dance. She later took part in a group photo session with the award winners.

Presided over by State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam Titu, the function was also addressed by the ministry's Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman Tipu Munshi, Commerce Ministry Secretary Md. Selim Uddin, and Chairman of Bangladesh Tea Board, Major General Md Ashraful Islam, among others. A documentary on the development of Bangladesh tea industries made by Bangladesh Tea Board was screened on the occasion.

June 4 has been declared as 'The National Tea Day' to commemorate Bangabandhu's contribution to the tea industry and make the date of his joining to the Tea Board as its chairman ever memorable. Bangabandhu had played a significant role in sustainable development of the tea industry during his tenure to the Tea Board from Jun 4, 1957 to Oct 23, 1958.

Sheikh Hasina asked the tea garden owners and businessmen to take care of the tea workers properly to increase production. "Take care of the tea workers. Help them elevate their living standard with providing necessary healthcare and financial assistances. Ensure education of their children as the education up to primary level is free," she said.

The PM said the tea workers will no longer remain floating as her government is giving houses and lands to the landless and homeless people marking the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

She said her government has given flats to 300 slum dwellers. "Not only the rich people, but also the slum dwellers will also stay in the flats," she reiterated.

The government will do its part, she said, adding that she has an emotional attachment with the tea industry as her Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the first Bengali Chairman of the tea board and provided citizenship to the tea workers.

The PM thanked the tea workers as they always supported Bangladesh Awami League by giving their votes to her party time and again to show their respect to the Father of the Nation. She welcomed the proposal of setting solar panel in the tea gardens across the country to meet the local demand of electricity while the additional electricity can be added to the national grid.

She said her government has attached topmost priorities on ensuring uninterrupted electricity to the industries that included tea industries to ensure increased production. She also said her government took various steps for tea production when the tea export came down as its demand went up in the domestic market. As a result, a record 102.92 million kg of tea was produced in 2023, she added.

The premier said when the Bangladesh Awami League government came to power in 1996, it took initiative to expand the tea cultivation to the North Bengal of the country, she said. So, tea cultivation has expanded to Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Dinajpur and Rangpur districts, she said.