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Nesarabad cricket bat industry fights for survival

Al Mamun . Barishal
21 Jun 2024 20:52:51 | Update: 21 Jun 2024 23:16:09
Nesarabad cricket bat industry fights for survival
— TBP Photo

For over three decades, the village of Binna in Nesarabad Upazila in Pirojpur has been meeting the needs of cricket enthusiasts across the country.

The bats made here are in high demand nationwide due to their quality and relatively low cost. However, the increasing number of factories and rising prices of materials have put this industry at risk.

To reach the village of Binna, one must travel along earthen roads. Here, many small-scale factories make cricket bats. The primary structures of the bats, made from trees like hog plum, burflower, cluster fig, and white teak, are dried in the sun along the roadside.

Bat makers said the bats made from different types of trees are sold for Tk 150-200. A polished and labelled bat is sold at wholesale price in Dhaka, with small bats priced between Tk 500 and Tk 950. Slightly higher-quality bats are sold for between Tk 1,400 and Tk 2,000.

Binna village, located east of the Belua River in Nesarabad Upazila, began bat production in 1988, initiated by Abdul Latif. Trees for bat production are brought in here from various areas, including Pirojpur.

The bats are made through a seven-stage process, starting with the preparation of the main body and the attachment of the handle, followed by finishing the final structure.

While bat production initially started in Binna village, it has now spread to nearby villages due to the comparatively low cost of raw materials in this industry. Workers from various areas and women from local households are involved in these factories. Wholesale buyers from different parts of the country come here to purchase bats.

A bat factory worker, Sohel Hossain, said that bats are made from a combination of trees which are bought at Tk 200-250 per kilogramme.

Worker Md Shaon Hawlader mentioned that he has been working in this bat-making factory for about two to three years. It takes 20 to 25 days to make a bat, requiring four to five workers to cut the trees, dry them in the sun, bring them to the sawmill, and cut them to size.

Sticker Artist Md Ahadul Islam said that bat stickers are bought from Dhaka. For expensive bats, the stickers cost Tk 15 per bat, while cheaper stickers cost Tk 3-5 per bat. After the bats are made and the stickers applied, they are sold wholesale in Dhaka, Chittagong, and other parts of the country.

Factory owner Abdul Latif said that he started making bats independently in the village after learning the craft from neighbouring districts. Now, bat production is ongoing in various nearby villages. Currently, the cost of raw materials is such that after selling the bats, there is hardly any profit left.

Md Santu Mia, the owner of Shaon Sports Factory, said that he has been making bats for almost 12 years, producing 28,000-30,000 bats annually. Despite the rising cost of all materials, the price of bats has not increased, leaving them with low profit.

“Additionally, Indian bats are entering the local market, reducing demand for local bats. The situation worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. Though many assured to provide support they did not. Government loans on easy terms would improve our situation,” he added.

The deputy manager of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) District Office in Pirojpur, Ali Asgar Nasir, said that in Nesarabad, 2,500 bat artisans work in 50 factories across 15 villages, meeting 70 per cent of the country's bat demand. BSCIC offers training programmes to artisans. Also, BSCIC provides loans on easy terms to factory owners.

“For the survival of the bat industry and its artisans, adequate loan facilities, government support, reduced costs of raw materials, and improved communication systems are necessary to encourage the profession and ensure profitability for the entrepreneurs,” he added.

Nesarabad Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Moniruzzaman emphasised the importance of sports for mental and physical well-being. Over time, sports are at risk of fading away. Several bat and stump factories have sprung up in this upazila.

 “The upazila administration constantly monitors to expand business and provide safety and government facilities for traders,” he added.