Like other tribals, the only Khasia people live in the hills of Sylhet. Their only recourse is drinking cultivation. The demand is as high as the diversity of Khasi betel cultivation. Following this, various classes of people have been involved in betel cultivation. Marketing is taking place in different areas of Sylhet and in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar. Drinks from there are being exported to the country and abroad. As delicious as this drink is, it is in great demand for color making. As a result, it is playing an important role in the national economy.
The need for betel cultivation is first of all before the introduction of betel. Because if you don’t cultivate, where will you get drink? Drink is an agricultural product produced by farmers. Drinking is practiced in different capitals of Moulvibazar district. According to Khasia Panpunji sources, there are 31 small Panpunjis in different hilly areas of Kulaura. Especially in Karmadha Union of the upazila, betel cultivation is most prevalent in about 23 betel capitals. The reporter visited Murichhara, Meghatila, Valairma, Gujachhara and Singur Punji in Kulaura and came to know a lot about betel cultivation.
Betel cultivation season
Especially from Jaistha month to Shravan month is the best season for betel cultivation. At this time drinking seedlings are planted by cutting from old trees. One year after planting of seedlings, betel production starts from the tree and betel is collected from this tree for 3 years. The betel leaves are cultivated in rows of hills on betel trees and other trees. The Khasia men are the ones who take care of the creeping pangas in Jume. They prune tree stalks and leaves once a year. In addition, pruned stalks and leaves should be given at the beginning of the betel tree once a year. Natural organic fertilizer is made by decomposing stalks and leaves. However, now many people buy organic fertilizer from the market and give it to them in the hope of increasing their consumption. Khasia men carry a drink called Lu-U (ladder) with a kind of bamboo ladder. They keep baskets to collect beers with them while picking beers. These drinks are kept in baskets. Later the Khasia men collected drinks and brought them home from Zum. And Khasia women sit at home, pack their drinks and sell them. According to the custom, the drink is usually taken from December to February. These two months of March-April do not have much water. But this time the bumper crop has been harvested due to early rains.
Family-based betel cultivation in capitals
Many families live in different parts of the upazila. Khasia girls are very shy. Girls are more predominant in the society. Girls inherit wealth. The Khasia tribes are a matriarchal family. The lineage is given in the mother’s lineage. So women have more rights in the family. Many families have 4/5 drink zoom in capital and at least one family has 1/2 drink zoom. Each zoom contains 1000-5000 drinking saplings.
Problems and prevention of betel cultivation
While cultivating betel, various diseases of betel were caught. Uthram (Pan Pancha) is a disease that severely damages Pan. There is also a poisonous disease called Pancha Klum. If it doesn’t rain at the right time, if you don’t take care to drink, the drinks turn red from June to September. Then they like their own lime at the beginning of the drink. According to the Khasias, they themselves cultivate betel in the original formula. They have been cultivating it without any cooperation from the agriculture department. Indigenous people feel that there is a need for government initiatives to eradicate drinking disease.
Income of Khasias in betel cultivation
Every Monday and Friday of the week, from 9 am to 5 pm, the Khasias spend their time collecting drinks. He returned home before evening. The boys drink from the tree. The girls bring it home in baskets. Karmatha almost all Khasias have a photo in their hands. The name is Takhali Da. The women of the house drink. Every day wholesalers come from the local Rabirbazar to buy beers. As a bunch of 12 betel leaves and one bunch in 12 bunches and 20 buds are one bud. There are also women workers among them, who only make a living from their own capital. Women get 50-60 rupees as remuneration for making a bud. One bud of new drink (no) costs 1200 to 1300 rupees. And the price of one bud of Khasia Puran Pan is 5500 to 6500 rupees. In the current season, on the day when betel is sold in a week, if you get 5 buds from each family in the capital, you get Rs. 6000-8500.
Creation of employment in betel cultivation
Employment opportunities have been created for many Bengali youths in different capitals focusing on betel cultivation. In all the capitals, especially in large families, 10 to 15 workers are working and in small families, 4 to 5 workers are working. 450 to 500 workers work locally for this betel cultivation. 30/40 CNG vehicles from the capital bring the pans to the warehouse. About 200 workers brought the beers from the capital by truck up the hill. Each worker receives a daily wage of 300 to 500 rupees.
The largest liquor store in Rabirbazar of Langla Pargana
The largest liquor store in Kulaura upazila is located at Rabirbazar. The lion’s share of these drinks, cultivated in the depths of different hills, come to different yards of Rabirbazar. There are about 60 small and big betel stalls in three markets in Rabirbazar. There are 120 to 130 moneylenders. Every day about two thousand local betel traders market khasia betel and new betel (no) from different capitals. Wholesale buyers from different parts of Sylhet division buy betel from these warehouses and market it in different upazilas of the country. And drink from these markets twenty outside the country
It is marketed in London. Rahman Mia, Abdul Jalil and Bashir Mia, betel traders from different markets of Sylhet, said that the demand for Khasia betel grown in Kulaura is in different markets of the country. We buy drinks from here as the transportation system is good including buying good drinks at affordable prices.
Drink traders say
Ramzan Ali, president of the East Rabirbazar Pan Traders’ Association, and Haji Elaish Mia, general secretary, said that in the current season, bets worth Tk 6-7 lakh are sold daily from the Rabirbazar warehouse. But before that, drinks worth Tk 40 to 45 lakh were sold every day from the Rabirbazar warehouse. From the warehouse, those beers go to different parts of the country in more than a hundred vehicles.
Speech of Khasias
Flora Babli Talang, general secretary of the Inter-Capital Development Organization (ISB) and Kulaura Murichhara betel minister, said betel cultivation has not yet been officially recognized as an industry. In other parts of the country, government and private loans are given for betel cultivation with many facilities. But Kulaura does not have this opportunity. Apart from the tribals, many Bengalis are directly and indirectly involved in betel cultivation. It is time to develop betel cultivation as an industry.
Kulaura’s Gujachhara Capital Minister Jimris Felei said that due to the early rains, more or less new beers are being extracted in all the capitals of the district. This drink is being exported abroad by meeting the demand of the country. So Khasia Pan farmers could have benefited more if they had got government financial support.
He added that it has become difficult for Khasias to live in the hills. We are living in the mountains in the midst of many hardships. A circle has sprung up to separate the hills and the Khasias. We make a living by cultivating betel.