Abu Sazzad: Country’s export earnings from the jute sector may touch US$ 5 billion by 2025 mainly for intensifying demand in the internal market. Recently, the government shut down some 25 state-run jute mills for incurring huge loss since long, but the export earnings of jute and jute goods increased largely from the beginning of the ongoing fiscal year 2020-21. More policy support is needed to boost production and export, they said adding that the current positive trend is spreading a ray of hope to gain US$5 billion export income by 2025, expected the export oriented stakeholders.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), jute accounted for 4.9 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the last fiscal year. Agriculture Extension Department disclosed that annually the production of jute is around 82 lakh metric tons and jute is being cultivated on 7 to 8 lac hectares of land in the country.
However, export income of jute and jute products was $307.55 million in the first three months (July to September) of the current fiscal against the target amounting at $274.96 million. Beside, the export earnings were $220.85 million during the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
Riding on Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, it may be said that the export income increased by 39.26 percent from the last fiscal while it was 11.85 percent from the target of the current fiscal.
Out of the export income in the first three months of the current fiscal, the raw jute export was $41.15 million, followed by $137.22 million for jute yarn and twine and $25.44 million for jute sacks and bags. Meanwhile, the export income from jute sector was $882.35 million in the last fiscal 2019-20, followed by $10120 million in 2017-18 and $962.40 million in 2016-17.
Due to the adverse impact of virus pandemic, the demand for traditional export products declined, but the demand for jute products increased rapidly for environment issues, said Sajjad Hussain Sohel, President of Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters Association (BJGEA) to the Daily Industry.
Actually, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) in 1972 to boost the jute sector as well as to grab the international market.
After establishing BJMC, some 76 jute mills were operated under the state run corporation, but the operation of the most of the jute mills had shut down for incurring huge losses. So far, the state run jute mills incurred loss amount Tk 10,000 crore, and for that, the government has decided to close the operation of the remaining 25 jute mills in the recent month. The reason behind incurring loss is the corruption and irregularities of the public jute mills, but the private sector jute mills are gaining profit every year, he claimed.
Commenting on target achieving and future prospect of the jute sector, he said, the export income may touch $1.50 billion in the current fiscal but proper policy support is needed to enhance the export income worth $5 billion by 2025.
Agriculture Researcher of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) M Asaduzzaman said, the export market of jute was steady since long, but the decision to shut down the world largest jute mill namely ‘Adamji Jute Mill’ and the wrong decision of the authorities concerned severely affected the global market in the recent years.
Still, Bangladesh has the potentiality to dominate the international market; he said adding that the overall demand for jute and jute products increased in the international market in the post virus pandemic period. “So, it is high time to grab the international market through supplying the standard products and ensuring adequate logistic supports for the stakeholders”, he added.
He recommended that the government may consider turning the state jute mills towards privatization which would help revamping the jute glory in the country”, he added.
Industry insiders said, the importance of the jute sector to the Bangladesh economy, in particular, cannot be over-stated, it is a major cash crop for over three million small farm households, the largest industry, producing about one-third of manufacturing output, and the largest agricultural export commodity in Bangladesh. The livelihood of about 25 million people (almost one-seventh of the total population) is dependent on jute related activities in agriculture, domestic marketing, manufacturing and trade.
Jute, as a renewable natural fiber, is also bio- degradable and environmentally friendly. Use of jute sticks as fuel and fencing material as substitute for wood prevents deforestation. Therefore, the increased global concern for the environment, the future prospects for jute remains high. “Now, a bright prospect is knocking at the door, so, it is a time befitting demand to patronize the jute sector through ignoring the previous agonizing state of the jute sector”, they mentioned.