Monsoon rains that elate farmers of jute

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 07 Aug 2017, 22:01:36 | Updated : 07 Aug 2017, 22:02:32
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Editorial

Monsoon rains that elate farmers of jute

A section of agriculturists are of the view that prolonged rain in the recent months and floods may stunt the growth of jute plants in some areas. The excessive water may also affect the fibre's quality. Ruling out these premonitions, the other experts focus on the higher acreage of the crop
The intense nature of monsoon this year coupled with increased rainfall has received a positive response from the country's jute-growing farmers. They predict prospects for a good harvest of the crop this year. As they find it, abundant rains will create sufficient water bodies facilitating jute retting. They are looking to the yields of quality jute thanks to enough water within their reach. The optimism has been shared by the jute industry people and officials at the department of agricultural extension.  In sizeable swathes of the country's jute-growing districts, lack of natural retting facility has long plagued the farmers. This type of retting has been practised in the country through ages. Retting is a prerequisite for extracting raw jute fibre from the stalks after letting them rot in water for a specific period. Despite being the most widely followed process, the gradual disappearance of rivers, canals and swamps has created difficulties in the traditional jute-retting. It resulted in improvised retting in the water-scarce zones and low-quality jute. Only recently the introduction of the mechanised 'ribbon retting' has provided a solution of sorts for the farmers.

Notwithstanding the hiccups in the government's relentless attempts to make the use of jute mandatory for the industries, the potential for increased jute exports continues to dominate the scenario. Jute has been recognised as the third-largest export earner of Bangladesh following garments and leather. With two-thirds of the country's once-famed 'golden fibre' being exported, the earning from raw jute and jute products keeps rising. The country's export receipts from the product jumped 5.0 per cent year-on-year to $962 million in 2016-17 fiscal year (FY), says the Export Promotion Bureau.  Bangladesh is the second-largest grower of the bio-degradable fibre after India. Given the ever-continuing global demand for the environment-friendly product, the country appears to be highly gifted in its capacity as a traditionally jute-growing country. In the event of the rise in the incidence of environmental degradations around the world, the return of jute's glory days may not be far from being a reality.

In the global jute landscape, the case for Bangladesh is quite propitious. Upon losing ground to export competitors in the world market due to the decline in the local product's quality, scientists have continued to invent better-standard jute. In line with this, the decoding of jute's genome sequence in 2013, under the leadership Dr. Maqsudul Alam, was a watershed event. In the virtually moribund jute sector of the country, the event added considerably to the hope for a return of the product's halcyon days. The globally recognised breakthrough feat ensured a new and improved genus of jute. That the enthusiasm of the farmers for the new type of the plant will lead to increase in jute's acreage proved a foregone conclusion. Lots of disillusioned farmers who had switched over to other crops returned to jute. The areas of cultivation increased concomitantly. However, proper retting remained a nagging problem for the farmers. 

Against the high hopes for an impressive yield, apprehensions also mar the mood of elation. A section of agriculturists are of the view that prolonged rain in the recent months and floods may stunt the growth of jute plants in some areas. The excessive water may also affect the fibre's quality. Ruling out these premonitions, the other experts focus on the higher acreage of the crop. In their view, this will make up for the loss of per unit yield of jute.     



 
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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