Not being able to climb the tree ‘lychee girls’ wages are low!

Ishwardi’s juicy litchi is appreciated across the country. When Madhumas comes, fruit lovers have their eye on Ishwardi’s delicious fiber-free litchi. However, many may not know that 25-30 thousand women workers of this upazila are involved in litchi production, maintenance and marketing work. Locally they are known as ‘Lichu Kanya’.

Last year, the attendance of these litchi girls was 300-350 taka. This time their attendance has increased to 400-500 taka. Lychu girls are not happy if the average salary has increased by 100 rupees compared to last year. They complain that their wages are lower even though they do the same amount of work as male workers. Those concerned claim that the women workers are behind in their wages as they cannot climb the trees.

Not being able to climb the tree 'lychee girls' wages are low!

Litchi farmers said that women workers have a role in all activities from litchi garden maintenance to litchi marketing. They work equally with male laborers to collect and market litchi. However, there is a difference in the daily attendance of male workers. Those who cut and pick litchi from the tree, the hajira (wages) is 600 taka. 800 for those who count. And those who make packets for marketing, attendance is 1200 taka. Along with male workers, the wages of female workers are also more or less. 400 rupees for those who pick litchi. And those who count, attendance is 500 taka.

Abdul Jalil Kitab Mandal, a national gold medalist in litchi cultivation, told Jago News that during the litchi season, 25-30 thousand women of this upazila are directly involved in the process of litchi production, sorting, counting and marketing. Among them are housewives, school and college students.

Not being able to climb the tree 'lychee girls' wages are low!

Regarding the wages of male and female workers, he said, last year the wages of female workers were Tk 300-350. 400-500 has been made this year. Male workers climb the trees to collect and package litchi for marketing, which female workers cannot do. Hence the wages of male workers are higher than that of females.

Jahurul Islam, a litchi farmer of Maniknagar village, said, ‘For the last seven days, 33 workers have collected, sorted and counted litchi in my garden. 25 of them are women. Women are good at picking and counting litchi. They can work in tandem with male workers. Their remuneration is also somewhat less. It saves us a bit.’

Talked with Achia Begum, a housewife of Mirkamari village. He told Jago News, ‘When the lychee season comes, we have an opportunity for additional income. We can buy household furniture including pots and pans with the income we earn by sorting and counting litchi in the garden of litchi farmers around the house. 20-25 days working money can buy a kid. It can be profitable if it is sold in large quantities.’

Not being able to climb the tree 'lychee girls' wages are low!

Regarding wages, he said, ‘We do not work less than men in any part. Rather, I work more than them in some areas. But our attendance is 400-500 taka. And men are being paid Rs 600-700.’

Nusrat Jahan, a college student from Maniknagar village, said, ‘I have been sorting and counting litchi since I was in class eight. The money earned by working for 15-20 days can cover the entire year’s study expenses. Hundreds of school and college students like me do litchi sorting and counting. We get a daily wage of Rs 400-450.’

Ishwardi Upazila Agriculture Officer Mita Sarkar told Jago News that most of the women workers are housewives. During litchi season, women help the family financially with their extra income. If they could be trained, they would be more efficient in this work.

Sheikh Mohsin/SR/MS