The Union Textiles Ministry to improve the quality of raw jute and farmersâ€™ yield in India as part of jute product diversification drive proposes to widen the scope of Jute I-CARE (Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise) programme.
The Ministry recently held a meeting with the Union Agriculture Ministry to discuss ways and means to involve State governments in the project and to expand the scope of the programme.
The Jute I-CARE programme was launched by the Agriculture Ministry in 2015 as a pilot scheme in five jute growing States, including West Bengal, which produces 80 percent of total raw jute supplies.
It aims to reduce the time of retting jute fibre from 22 days to eight or nine days by using specific micro-organisms. Farmers were offered certified seeds at 50 percent subsidy, farm implements and training on improved agronomics.
Though India is the worldâ€™s largest raw jute producer, 60 percent of the produce is rated as average (CD-5) or below, which is not suitable for producing diversified products. With 75 per cent of raw jute supplied to mills enjoying purchase protection from the Centre under a mandatory packaging order, the sector suffers from limited interest in diversifying jute goods beyond sacking products.
While phasing out of the protection remains a debatable issue, the Textiles Ministry is keen to increase supply of better-quality raw jute to encourage production of diversified commodities.
Irani said that India tops in raw jute production but, Bangladesh earns six times more export revenue.
Bangladeshi jute mills do not enjoy any purchase protection from the government. Nearly 80 per cent of the countryâ€™s 10-12 lakh tonnes of jute products are exported. A sizeable chunk (150,000 tonnes) of total exports is shipped to India.
According to sources, Bangladesh was exporting jute products to India at prices lower than its domestic rates.
Responding about the anti-dumping duty imposed by India on Bangladeshi jute products, Irani said that it was imposed following due procedure and after one-and-a-half-year-long enquiry proceedings.
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