Country’s jute sector will get back its lost glory if the existing industries are modernised by enriching them with high tech equipments and other logistic supports.
The factories that currently operate under Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) should be made properly active instead of establishing new jute mills in the name increasing capacity. Experts came out with the observation at a seminar titled ‘Present Situation of Jute Industry: Problems and Possibilities’ organised by Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital on Sunday.
Mujibur Rahman Bhuiyan, vice president of BILS, presided over the seminar while Shahidullah Chowdhury, member advisor of BILS, presented the keynote paper.
During delivering his keynote speech, Shahidullah Chowdhury said there are 32 jute mills under BJMC and 10 of them are already closed.
Unless these mills are revived and those which are in a vulnerable state are strengthened, the soundness of the jute sector can hardly be brought back, he opined.
He also said the total area of jute lands in the country is currently 14.75 lakh acres while the production is 1.65 million tonnes per annum. Of the total amount, around 1.12 million tonnes are used to meet the local demand, and around 0.25m tonne raw jute worth Tk 1,199 crore is exported.
Moreover, the country annually exports 8.36m tonnes of jute and jute goods while India exports only 1.5m tonnes, meaning that Bangladesh is the top source country that meets the global demand of jute and jute goods, he added.
Renowned scientist Dr Mobarak Ahmed Khan said jute started losing its market due to inception of polythene 50 years back. But it is the time to accelerate jute growth as jute production is gradually increasing.
During 1983-84 fiscal year, the country would export 5.03 lakh tonne jute but now it exports over 8.32 lakh tonnes. It means that the future of country’s jute industry has a good future, he said.
He also said there are some reasons why Bangladesh’s jute has lost its appeal in the market, with one reason being the bad smell coming out of jute goods after a certain period of use. It also becomes distorted at one point of time.
“Mercedes and Boeing used sheets made of jute fibre on an experimental basis but they also complained of bad odour coming out of it,” Dr Khan said adding that these problems must be solved as soon as possible.
“On the other hand, we cannot add colour to jute as it can hold only 35 percent of colour and the rest gets washed into water” he mentioned by putting forward a solution of it, “But I have invented such chemicals which jute can ensure jute products’ holding 99 percent of added colour. This method can ultimately replace central effluent treatment plant from garments industry”.
“We have already invented jute bag quite similar to polythene bag which has been named as Sonali Bag. This single product can be a global brand of the country.”
But with a low production of jute in the country cannot meet the huge global demand for this biodegradable bag. Therefore it needs to augment jute growth more in the country, he said.
“From jute, we can also produce Lignin, an essential ingredient to produce cosmetic products, which can help reducing import of the product, he suggested.
Dr Khandaker Golum Moazzem, director (research) of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said all the jute factories in the country do not utilise its capacities fully. New technologies, equipments and skilled manpower could revive these factories.
Dr MM Akash, a professor of Dhaka University, said BJMC should be decentralized, corruption in purchasing raw jute should be stopped, jute mills will be leased out like what China does, and skilled people should be injected in this sector.
At the seminar, leaders and workers from different districts of the country were also present.