The Bangladesh textiles and jute ministry yesterday issued an order which states that all types of raw jute for an indefinite period has been banned to meet the countryâ€™s additional demand for jute in implementing the mandatory jute packaging law. Millers, both public and private, have welcomed the latest move taken by the government, saying it would bring new investment and create jobs.
Mirza Azam, state minister for textiles and jute said that the country need an additional 17-19 lakh bales in the next nine months if they want to fully implement the jute packaging law. They will be in a crisis if they donâ€t stop export of raw jute. Earlier, the government had imposed a similar ban for a month, starting on November 3.
According to state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), Bangladesh produces around 58 lakh bales of jute a year, which is equivalent to 1.04 million tonnes. The country's internal consumption is 38 lakh bales (0.68 million tonnes). On an average, Bangladesh exports 21 lakh bales of raw jute a year. The price of the exported raw jute is around Tk 1,000 crore.
However, Bangladesh has failed to use this eco-friendly and biodegradable product, despite being the second biggest producer of raw jute after India. As a result, low-cost plastic products have grabbed the local market.
To promote the use of jute products, the government enacted the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act in 2010. The rules of the law were formulated in 2013, stipulating that all traders as well as government organisations must use jute bags to pack paddy, rice, pulses, wheat, fertiliser and sugar. Even after the mandatory law, concerned organisations did not follow the rules.
In recent months, the government launched drives to promote jute-based packaging. The minister said that the producers and traders of plastic packaging materials will not be spared if they impede the use of the eco-friendly jute bags.
Raids through mobile courts are on across the country and it will continue until the full implementation of the jute packaging law.
Harunoor Rashid, managing director of Al-haj Jute Mills, said that India is the biggest producer of jute, but the country consumes 95 percent of its jute and exports only 5 percent. Similarly, they can make their own market that will benefit growers, farmers and millers. But investment on research and development is a must to expand the local market for jute goods.
Humayun Khaled, chairman of BJMC said that though many government agencies come under the purview of the law, there has been little interest on their part to use jute bags, let alone private enterprises and businesses. The government agencies buy very nominal compared to their requirement.
According to BJMC, in Bangladesh there are 205 jute mills, including 81 jute spinners. Of them, 27 units are state-owned. The jute sector employs around a total of 156,549 people.
According to Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, if the packaging law is full enforced it will create demand for 84 crore jute bags a year for selected agricultural and non-agricultural product/
Jute is the second most important fibre after cotton. It is used mainly to make cloth for wrapping bales of raw cotton, and to make sacks and coarse cloth. The fibre is also woven into curtains, chair coverings, carpets, rugs, hessian cloth, and backing for linoleum.
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