Jute production has increased and so has new investment in the sector. However, the potential of the product in the international market has not been exploited to the full. If the bottlenecks in this sector can be removed, it would be possible to increase export of jute and jute products to the international market.
Stakeholders highlighted various aspects of the jute sector at a roundtable on “Jute Production and Expanding the Market for Jute Goods: Problems and Potential” on Tuesday. It was organised by Prothom Alo with support from CARE and SWITCH Asia Jute Value Chain Development Project, at the Prothom Alo office in Dhaka’s Kawran Bazar.
State minister for textiles and jute Mirza Azam said, the present government has taken several
initiatives to develop the jute sector, including resuming production at earlier closed jute mills, and taking up initiatives and projects for the manufacturing of diversified jute goods. The government is also establishing a jute mill equipped with the latest technology, he said.
The state minister informed the roundtable that, in order to increase the domestic demand for jute, the government has passed a law for the compulsory use of jute packaging for six particular items. A total of 139 different jute products were on display at the jute fair last year and 20 per cent incentive has been given for the export of jute products. The government has also added provision to buy geo-textiles in its purchase rules. With political conflict leading to a drop in demand for jute in the Middle East, new markets are being explored, he said.
CARE country director Jamie Terzi highlighted jute as an environment-friendly commodity, saying if women could be involved in the diversified use of jute, this would play a role in both women’s empowerment and poverty alleviation.
The roundtable was moderated by Prothom Alo’s associate editor Abdul Quayyum.
Speaking at the roundtable, Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation’s former chairman major general Humayun Khaled said, the main reason for the poor plight of jute was lack of continuity in the government policy. If the revival of the golden days of the golden fibre is to be sustained, there must have been coordinated measures of all concerned. The media must also play a role in this regard.
The sector will not flourish if jute growers are not given a good price, remarked additional secretary of the textile and jute ministry Narayan Chandra Sarkar. He said, the government has taken up a project to supply growers with high quality jute seeds and encourage them to produce seeds. An increase in the production of jute seeds will reduce dependence on importing the seeds.
Executive director of the government’s Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC) Nasima Begum said, so far JDPC has trained 600 entrepreneurs and 300 of them are already creating diverse designs and new jute products.
Managing director of Creation (pvt) Ltd, Mohammed Rashedul Karim, said there has been a five to six per cent growth in the country’s jute sector. He said, the jute mills were still manufacturing traditional jute goods, but there was a $500 billion demand for shopping bags in the global market. If Bangladesh could capture even just two per cent of this market, this would change the entire economy of the country.
President of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association Mohammed Shams-uz-Zoha said, from now the future generations should be encouraged towards manufacture of jute goods. Government decisions regarding the jute sector are implemented to slowly, he pointed out adding that the decision taken in 2010 was only implemented in 2014.
The SME Foundation will be providing loans at nine per cent interest rate as incentive to new entrepreneurs in the jute sector, the foundation general manager SM Shaheen Anwar informed the roundtable.
Deputy director of the planning commission Tapan Nath said, “There was an international jute organisation in Bangladesh, but it achieved nothing in the sector. We need to set up a new international organisation for jute.”
Director of the Export Promotion Bureau Abdur Rauf said, “We are the largest growers of jute, but have no control of the international jute market. We have to gain that control.”
A total of 67 per cent of the jute seeds used by the farmers come from India and the rest from Bangladesh, CARE, Bangladesh’s ERPP project director Anwarul Huq told the meeting. He urged for jute seeds to be produced within the country and also for jute product designs to be made in accordance to the buyers’ demands.
Deputy managing director of Janata Jute Mills Mahmudul Huq said, the use of jute products has increased in various ways, including in car dashboards.
Bangladesh Jute Mills Association secretary A Barik Khan urged for low interest loans in the sector.
SWITCH Asia Jute Value Chain Development Project’s team leaders Shekhar Bhattacharya said, an integrated agency is required for the overall development of the jute industry.
President of Switch to Jute Consortium Shantana Mumtaz recommended a that design development centre be set up.
Fancy Begum, a jute item producer from Rangpur, said better training should be arranged and the government should extend assistance to the micro entrepreneurs.
Ali Hossain, a jute grower from the same district . said, farmers must be given a fair price.