The National Jute Day was celebrated for the first time in the country. The week-long programme concentrated on rallies and fairs of jute products These activities are geared to promoting various jute products of day-to-day use and handicrafts made of jute.
While addressing the National Jute Day programme, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hoped that the lost glory of jute would return through her government's initiatives.
The minister of state for jute said that in five years jute industry will be as good as ready-made garment (RMG) industry. Various initiatives have been taken to bring back the golden days of jute.
This government has taken an initiative for reviving the jute sector. Financial assistance has been provided to public sector jute mills. Private sector jute mills also deserve incentives. A level playing field is needed for both the public and private sector jute mills. Public and private sector jute mills have to operate in a competitive environment.
DEVELOPING JUTE SECTOR: Jute still faces stiff competition from polythene and plastic which cause damage to the environment. There is a global demand for jute goods on consideration of eco-friendliness of the natural fibre.
Bangladesh scientists, under the leadership of Maqsudul Alam, had done jute genome sequencing in 2010. It is time for translating the genome breakthrough into industrial dividends. Jute fibre has the potential to challenge the artificial materials now in use. If the cloth made of jute yarn can rival cotton yarn, there will be a great leap forward in technological term.
Jute mills under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) are going for BMRE (Balancing, Modernization, Rehabilitation and Expansion) with assistance from China. So far three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) have been signed.
Jute mills were nationalized after the liberation of the country. But this policy was not sustained. Many jute mills were sold to private sector. Private sector jute mills are also not running well. They look for incentives from the government.
Raw jute has good demand in the export market. But raw jute has to meet the local demand first. It should not be exported before meeting the domestic demand. We have to give priority to meet the domestic requirement. This will also save the product from fluctuations in the international market and people will get used to buying local jute products which will be generally cheaper and reduce our dependence on imported products. The legal provision made for compulsory use of jute packaging is a step in the right direction
JUTE FAIR: A five-day jute fair was held at Khamarbari Krishibid Institute from March 09 and it was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Jute products were displayed throughout the country. Jute Diversification Promotion Centre arranged the fair. There were 90 stalls. One space was decorated in the form of a bed room. In this room there was sofa set, curtain, bed sheet, pillow cover, floor mat, lamp shed - all are made from jute. Even the wall was covered by jute materials. One stall was decorated by different clothing, bags, shoes, sarees and Punjabis. Visitors commented that arrangement was nice and price was also within reach.The fair was extended by two days because of the enthusiasm of the visitors.
The writer is an economist and columnist.