Farmers start tea plantation

Himalayan News Service

Ilam, April 18:

After farmers started tea plantation on their own lands, they have stopped going for picking tealeaves. Farmers, who once used to go leaf picking for six months a year, said that the situation is such that they do not have enough time to pick tealeaves for others, after working in their own garden. During the first week of Baisakh, hundreds of women from Samalbung and Shree Antu used to leave for Mirik in Darjeeling to pick tealeaves. However, this system has come to an end now. Though tea industries have been calling them, they have been unable to go due to their busy schedule at home, said Laxmi Pradhan of Samalbung-1.

She said that she went to pick tealeaves for five continuous years and added, "I used to get one to five rupees Indian Currency (IC) for a kilogram of tealeaves picked and at times I have picked up to ten kilograms of leaves."

"Women used to leave for tea picking before dawn and come back before sunset," said Sangita Khattri. She said, "I also went to Darjeeling for six years and the pain I went through was indescribable. The pain was more than the money." She added that they used to go by the hundreds and did not have time to think about difficulties like rain or storm. Meanwhile, Mani Kumar Rai, an employee at the Tharbu Tea Estate of Darjeeling, said that it has become hard to get manpower to pick tealeaves nowadays. Earlier, manpower from Nepal used to be plenty, which is not the situation now.