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17 March, 2019 01:00:52 AM
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Bright future ahead

Jute products
Sharif Ahmed, Dhaka
Bright future ahead

Sharif Ahmed, Dhaka

Jute products turned heads at a two-day fair on the occasion of National Jute Day 2019 as exhibitors filled their stalls with products of various designs and colours to attract people. The fair held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) ended recently.

The array of products included bags, purses, folders, tablemats, prayer mats, doormats, rugs and room dividers, among others.

A huge number of visitors at the jute goods stalls made the vendors happy. They said they expected buoyant sales this year.

At the fair, manufacturers and exporters displayed around 300 types of jute products in both traditional and unconventional forms.

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.

Mohammad Ali Khan, owner of Hand Touch, started his journey in 2002. “We showcased five categories of jute products at the fair. They included fashion accessories, home textiles and décor, baskets, and fabrics,” he said.  

Fashion accessories included scarf, shawl, saree, and bag, whereas home textiles and décor comprised table linen, table clothes, table mats, kitchen apron and tugs. “We have produced a jute bag that is made of a mixture of sea-grass (Hogla in Bengali) and jute. This product became a hit at the fair,” he added.

When asked about the price of the products, Khan said that the prices of the sarees ranged from Tk 1,200 to Tk 1,500 and curtains from Tk 600 to Tk 800. Besides, a piece of table cloth costs Tk 800 and door mat Tk 200. Bags made of jute and sea-grass ranged between Tk 250 and Tk 300.

Scarves were priced at Tk 350 each.

Saris are not fully made with jute, but comprise 30 per cent jute and 70 per cent cotton.  

About the export potential of jute products, Khan said: “Hand Touch exports products to countries in Europe, the US, Canada, and Japan."

“After nine years of experience in our local market, we were confident enough to enter the export market in 2011. Currently, we are also exporting handloom fabrics and handmade textile products to Japan, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, the UK and Sweden,” he added.

“We are working hard to market our sophisticated handmade products worldwide,” he noted.

When asked about the challenges, Khan said: “We don’t have enough design laboratories. As a result, innovations are getting delayed.”     

Pointing to another challenge, Khan said that the bank interest rate was too high and should come down to single digits. However, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation provides loans at a 9 per cent interest rate.

“There is lack of skilled labour in the market. That is another obstacle that we must address,” he observed.  

When asked about the future of this sector, he sounded optimistic. “When I started my business at a small village in Panchagarh, there were only four to five people working on my premises. Now, there are more than 300 employees,” he said.

“The export growth, on average, is 10 per cent in my organisation. We produce 240,000 yards of pure jute-mixed fabric each year. So, there is a remarkable future growth ahead in this sector,” he added.

“Altogether, we have more than 100 handlooms, called ‘Tant’ in Bangladesh. Most of them are suitable for weaving jacquard and dobby patterns,” he said.

“We also have pit looms. The pit loom is one of the oldest traditional methods of weaving fabrics, next to the strap loom,” he also said.

“We have five handloom weaving units. Our main workshop is in Panchagarh, where we have 34 ‘Tant’ looms. In Sirajgonj district, we have 20 more ‘Tant’ looms. The rest of our looms are spread over our facilities in the country,” he added.

Jermatz Limited has been meeting the local demand for jute products since 2015. Its managing director, Ismat Jerin Khan, told The Independent that they came up with around 30 diversified jute products like jute shopping bags, promotional bags, baskets, laptop bags, table covers, cushion covers, canvas tote bags and home decor products, among others, at the fair.

“We have brought a different type of basket, made of reed and jute, at this fair. We have also brought 15 types of baskets, 12 types of floor mats, three types of table plate mats—all made of jute,” she said during the fair.

She also said discounts had been offered at the fair on different jute products. However, they would be made available only to those buyers who were willing to place an order. The prices of the jute baskets ranged from Tk 500 to Tk 1,500.

“We have already talked to buyers from the Maldives and Turkey and received positive response from both,” 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 threads. “This raw material is not adequately available in our country,” she said.

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

Rezaul Karim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters’ Association, told The Independent that the demand for jute products was growing worldwide as more and more people relinquished the use of polythene and moved towards eco-friendly products.

Karim, who is also the owner of BICO Jute Fibres, said the demand for jute sacks was rising in African countries like Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Sudan. “They use sacks for food grain packaging,” he added.

Besides, Japan and South Korea use jute sacks for car interiors, electronic casings and other surfaces because jute fibre is nvironment-friendly, he said. “It is bio-degradable and recyclable as well,” he added.

Karim also said his company had exported jute bags worth USD 20 million last year.

About the challenges, Karim said that there was a crisis of raw jute in the local market due to its export to countries like India and Pakistan.

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

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

The price of a jute sari is Tk 3,200, he added.  

According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the jute and jute goods sector fetched export earnings of USD 421.02 million in FY2018–19. This was up from the USD 574.05 million recorded for the same period in FY2017-18, thereby showing a negative growth of 26.66 per cent.

EA

 

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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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