Joynuddin Kha of Jhenaidah was thinking outside of the box. When the other villagers were busy with other cash crops, he planted bay leaf trees, the aromatic leaf locally known as ‘tej patta’.
Back in 2008, Joynuddin planted 100 trees on his one bigha plot of land for commercial production of the bay leaf. He later went for large scale production and expanded the plantation to four bighas of land. His success in this business has made him a model in his locality as two other farmers have come forward to grow bay leaf.
Bay leaf is an essential part of Bangladesh cuisine. From sweets to savoury dishes, bay leaf is used in almost every dish in the kitchen.
Joynuddin said, “I started bay leaf cultivation, planting 100 trees in 2008. I now have 400 trees.”
In 2007 Joynuddin visited India. There he first saw the commercial production of bay leaf. After returning home, he planned to cultivate bay leaf.
But, Joynuddin said, he couldn’t find the saplings in the area. Later, one of his friends told him that he might find the saplings in Bejerdanga of Khulna district.
He rushed there and bought 100 saplings of bay leaf trees. Each piece cost him Tk 200.
After four years, he started harvesting the leaves from the trees. He collected leaves twice a year.
He said one can plant at best 100 trees on 46 decimals of land.
Joynuddin said a tree can produce leaves for 50 years. One tree yields 20 kilogrammes of leaves in a year. Tending to each tree costs Tk 100.
He sells th eleaves for Tk 60 per kg, meaning his 400 trees produce leaves costing Tk 500,000 in a year.
Joynuddin sold three maunds of leaves in the very first year. The production has hiked to 12 maunds a year. He hoped that the production will go up to 20 maunds in next year.
Joynuddin has four children, all of them now married. The bay leaf cultivation has given his family financially stability.
Kadirkol village’s Abul Kamal said he has also started the bay leaf business. He planted trees in nearly 35 decimals of land.
Agriculture extension department's deputy director Kripanshu Kumar said this was a very profitable business.