India’s likely ban on export of jute seeds has raised concerns among Bangladesh’s millers, cultivators and the government, official sources said.
The neighbouring country is likely to take the decision on the ban with a view to meeting its domestic demand for jute seeds, they added.
The jute industry and jute growers including a large number of people involved with the sector will face immense problems if India imposes a ban on export of seeds, according to a letter of the textiles and jute ministry.
In the letter, the ministry had recently requested the commerce ministry to take necessary steps in this regard and discuss the issue with the neighbouring state for import of seeds uninterruptedly from India.
Bangladesh largely depends on Indian jute seeds. About 70 per cent of jute seeds are imported from India to meet the domestic demand due to its lower production in the country.
“Jute cultivation in the country has increased many times due to a rise in jute prices. Jute seeds will be much in demand during the current season,” the letter reads.
“We have come to know that the Indian government may impose a ban on export of jute seeds like some other agricultural products including onion and potato,” a senior official of the jute ministry said.
The ministry concerned should now take urgent and proper steps so that the decision on a possible ban on export of such items by the Indian government cannot be implemented, he added.
A commerce ministry official said the ministry had started working on the issue. The textile and jute ministry had recently made request for taking steps in this regard.
The government had set a target to produce 4,500 tonnes of jute seeds in next five years aiming to make the country self-sufficient in such seeds, according to the agriculture ministry.
A project had also been undertaken involving the agriculture, textile and jute ministries as well as other stakeholders concerned to make the country self-sufficient in jute seeds.
The project would be implemented over five years from fiscal year 2021-22 to FY 2025-26.
A total of 8,780 hectares of land would be purchased for jute seed farming, said the agriculture minister.
At a view-exchange meeting on ‘Implementing the roadmap to make the country self-sufficient in high-yielding jute seeds’ held in January, Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque said local farmers need 5,215 tonnes of jute seeds annually, of which 775 tonnes are supplied by Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation.
The country imports more or less 85 per cent of Tossa jute seed from India to meet the local demand.
With the completion of the project, the local farmers would produce a total of 4,500 tonnes of Tossa variety seed, the minister also said.
In the meeting, Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said the production of jute seed should be increased by giving farmers necessary incentives.
“Dependence on other countries for jute seeds is a great concern as such nations could slap ban on export anytime,” he added.
Bangladesh is the second highest producer of raw jute and the largest exporter of jute and jute products in the world.
The country’s jute output is above 1.4 million tonnes (8.0 million bales) annually.