Basics about Jute:
- Jute is one of the important natural fibres after cotton in terms of cultivation and usage.
- Its cultivation is dependent on climate, season, and soil.
- Almost 85% of world’s jute cultivation is concentrated in the Ganges Delta.
- India is largest producer or cultivator of jute in the world (around 60%) followed by Bangladesh and China.
- Top jute producing states are West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha.
- Jute industry is predominantly dependent on Government sector which purchases jute products more than Rs. 5,500 crore every year.
- Government has been making concerted efforts for the development of jute sector considering that nearly 3.7 lakh workers and approximately 40 lakh farmers are dependent for their livelihood on jute sectors.
- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved to expand the scope of mandatory packaging norms under Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987. It has approved that 100% of the food grains and 20% of sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.
Impact of mandatory packaging norm:
- It will give a fillip to development of jute sector and impetus to the diversification of the jute industry.
- It will increase quality and productivity of raw jute and also boost and sustaining demand for jute product.
- It will benefit farmers and workers located in Eastern and North Eastern regions of country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.
- The outcry and ban against plastic bags and single-use plastic packaging holds potential for the jute sector.
- More than 100-year-old sector may not be in a position to benefit from this opportunity, right away.
- The availability of quality raw jute and shrinking acreage on the one-hand and the failure of most jute mills to modernise has left the sector dependent on government-support like packaging reservations.
- Only a section of the industry has diversified into non-packaging segments.
- The industry’s ability to rise to these challenges hinges on the quality of the golden fibre.
- West Bengal is India’s single largest raw jute cultivator producing almost 75 % of the crop in Nadia, Dinajpur, Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas districts.
- But acreage had stagnated amid low productivity and falling prices of the cash crop.
- With raw jute prices remaining below the support price in 2017-18, area-under-cultivation may stagnate in 2018-19.
- Primitive, labour-intensive cultivation methods and retting (drenching raw jute in water to extract the fibre) — a crucial determinant in raw jute quality — creates problems.
- The I-CARE programme unveiled by the National Jute Board and the Jute Corporation of India seeks to address the retting issue by introducing a pilot project on retting technologies aimed at increasing farmers’ returns.
- A recent initiative called ‘The Jute Foundation’ (TJF) is trying to address many issues pertaining to the environment-friendly product.
- It is trying to engage all stakeholders –farmers, workers, mills, research organisations and consumers.
- An initiative is being introduced for the industry to work jointly with research and development agencies like IJIRA (Indian Jute Industries’ Research Association) and others to develop thin and slim jute shopping bags that can be rolled into a ladies’ handbag.