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11 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Golden fibre promises rich days ahead

Sharif Ahmed
Golden fibre promises rich days ahead

The popularity of jute, known as the golden fibre of Bangladesh, is growing steadily. The jute sector recorded export earnings of US$574.06 million in the first six months (July–December) of the current fiscal year (2017–18). This was up from the US$472.57 million recorded for the same period in the previous financial year, thus showing a 21.48 per cent growth.

Needless to say, jute has started playing a significant role in the national economy.

According to the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), the BJMC produced 108,000 metric tonnes of jute last year and 145,000 metric tonnes this year.

Entrepreneurs said proper policy support, soft loans at low interest rates, and capacity building of skilled manpower could increase jute earnings three times domestically and internationally in the next couple of years.

According to BJMC, the country's jute production witnessed nearly a 100 per cent increase since independence. The production of the most affordable natural fibre rose from over 42 lakh bales in 1971–72 to over 82 lakh bales in the last financial year (2016–17).

 

Jute fair

 The three-day ‘Multipurpose Jute Product Fair’, which ended at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) last week, was organised by the Ministry of Textiles and Jute.

According to the organiser, approximately 78 stalls displayed 235 kinds of jute products at the three-day event.

To draw buyers’ attention, many entrepreneurs displayed jute-made local products to local and foreign buyers. The stall owners came up with jute products such as cushion cover, bed cover, sofa cover, curtains, blankets, table mat, carpets, and mobile phone covers.

 

Product diversification

The Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC) is an autonomous government body responsible for the promotion and diversification of jute use in Bangladesh. It displayed at its stall sofas, curtains, bed sheets, pillow covers, floor mats, lampshades—all made of jute.

Jermatz Limited has been meeting the local handicraft demand for jute products since 2015.

The managing director of Jermatz Limited, Ismat Jerin Khan, told The Independent that Jermatz Limited had come up with 30 diversified jute products, such as jute shopping bags, jute promotional bags, jute baskets, corporate laptop bags, table covers, cushion covers, canvas tote bags and home decor products, among others, at this fair.

“We are offering discounts in this fair on different jute products”, she said when the fair was on.

The product prices ranged from a minimum Tk. 100 to a maximum Tk. 2,500, she added.

When asked whether they exported their products, Ismat Jerin Khan said, “We export jute products to countries like Germany and Austria.”

Describing some challenges, Ismat Jerin Khan pointed out that jute yarn was spun and prepared for use in weaving, knitting, and manufacturing sewing thread. "This raw material is not adequately available in our country," she added.

She also said: “We don’t have adequate design labs for producing innovative colours of jute products to suit buyers’ demands.”

She further said geo-textiles were being used in laying foundations and preventing soil erosion and as geotechnical engineering material in other projects. The popularity of jute geo-textile was increasing in the world market. As a result, Bangladesh has a great scope to earn money by exporting jute geo-textile.

To produce quality jute and diversify jute products, the government was providing 20 per cent cash incentive, she added.

She said Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) loans should be made more easily available for the revival of this sector.

Bengal Braided Rugs Ltd, which creates contemporary handmade products out of jute, had also participated in this fair.

Talking to The Independent, Shahedul Islam Helal, the managing director of Bengal Braided Rugs, said: “We specialise in braided rugs, table-top products and baskets. We are showcasing these products in the fair.”

Explaining the fair’s objective, Helal said there were two objectives: first, to make people aware and popularise the use of jute products, and second, to showcase the products to foreign buyers.  “The packaging industry is changing throughout the world. So, in order to compete with the global market, we need to diversify our jute products,” he noted.

Citing an example, Helal said: “Polythene bags can be printed with 20 colours but jute bags are printed only with two colours. So, product diversification is very important to update ourselves to the international arena.”

 

Jute vs plastic

 “Each year, on average 500 billion plastic bags have been consumed in the world. So, it is impossible to compete with plastic bags. Therefore, we need to diversify the jute products to compete in the local and global market,” Helal said.

“It is very important to make diversified jute products commercially viable as well,” he added.

Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) had participated in the National Jute Fair 2018 to showcase its unique product ‘jute polybag’, which is bio-degradable and eco-friendly.

In response to a question, BJMC assistant manager Nurul Huda, told The Independent that ‘jute polybag’ is entirely made of jute. A component called ‘cellulose fibre’ is used in it.

Describing the product characteristics, he said: “Jute polybag is easily biodegradable and mixes with the soil within three to four days.”

“This is purely an eco-friendly product and not harmful for the environment,” he stressed.

Nurul Huda showed another product to this correspondent—jute fibre sheet. He explained that jute fibre this product was like corrugated iron sheet, but was entirely made of jute and fibre.

About the product’s durability, Nurul Huda said the jute fibre sheet was heat-resistant and could easily withstand hailstorm up to 10kilogram.

“Per square feet price of this product is Tk. 146,” Huda observed.

Pervin Handicrafts is a manufacturer of handicrafts made of jute. The company had presented nearly 420 diversified jute products at the fair.

Pallab Hasan, owner of Pervin Handicrafts, said: “We are mainly highlighting two products—‘Saree’ and ‘mobile bags’, which are made entirely of jute.”

The price of the jute saree was Tk. 3,200, he said.

Corefield Limited had displayed 20 to 25 diversified jute products at the fair. Its managing director, Jahidul Islam, said: “We are showcasing products such as shoe-hanger, terracotta, and tissue box which are all manufactured from jute.”

The frame of the terracotta is made of wood, but the design is entirely prepared from jute and was priced at Tk. 5,000 each, Jahidul informed.

At present, Corefield is exporting jute products to Canada and some European countries, officials of Corefield informed.

 Afnan Jutex Ltd has brought jute-made ‘panjabi’ in this jute fair.

An Afnan Jutex employee, requesting anonymity, said: “Many visitors have seen their jute-made ‘panjabi’. Each panjabi sold for Tk. 1,000.”

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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