The jute industry has been told to step up the supply of gunny bags for the Kharif season or face dilution in the mandatory packaging order now in force to protect the one and a half-century-old industry. Background
- The jute industry also struggled to meet its supply commitments for packing food grains earlier in June and July.
- Of the total order of 0.54 million bales for the two months in the Kharif marketing season (KMS), the industry has managed to meet barely 42 per cent of the indented quantity.
- Procurement has already begun in some States and the Food Ministry wants relaxation in favour of HDPE (high-density polypropylene) or PP bags.
Problems with Jute Industry in India
- The Textiles Ministry feels that while the support of the Act was meant to protect a traditional industry, the mills had become over-dependent on this avenue for product offtake.
- Far from making the jute sector self-reliant, [this] has made the sector more dependent on the compulsory reservation.
Schemes and Measures to Strengthen Jute Sector
- The availability of quality raw jute and the failure of most jute mills to modernise has left the sector dependent on government-support like packaging reservations.
- Only a section of the industry has diversified into non-packaging segments.
- The industry’s ability to rise to these challenges hinges on the quality of the golden fibre.
- West Bengal is India’s single largest raw jute cultivator but acreage had stagnated amid low productivity and falling prices of the cash crop.
- With raw jute prices remaining below the support price, area-under-cultivation may further stagnate.
- Primitive, labour-intensive cultivation methods and retting (drenching raw jute in water to extract the fibre) — a crucial determinant in raw jute quality — creates problems.
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- Whenever the market price of raw jute falls below a certain level, the Jute Corporation of India (JCI) procures raw jute at Minimum Support Price (MSP), fixed on the basis of the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP).
- Incentive Scheme for Acquisition of Plants and Machinery (ISAPM): Government of India launched ISAPM in 2013 with the basic aim to facilitate modernization in existing and new jute mills and up- gradation of technology in existing jute mills and to provide assistance to a large number of entrepreneurs.
- Jute-ICARE (Jute: Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise): This pilot project launched in 2015 is aimed at addressing the difficulties faced by the jute cultivators by providing them certified seeds at subsidized rates, seed drills, nail-weeders and by popularizing several newly developed retting technologies under water limiting conditions.
- The National Jute Board implements various schemes for market development, workers’ welfare and promotion of diversification and exports.
- Government has issued a notification in 2017 imposing Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on jute goods originating from Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Government has made it mandatory for the entire chain from importers and traders to the level before the end-users, to register with the Office of Jute Commissioner, and furnish monthly reports on the imported goods.
- Government has also directed all manufacturers, importers processors and traders to mark/ print/ brand the words “Made in- Country of Origin” on imported bags.