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25 June, 2018 11:38:02 AM

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Incentives necessary for jute growers

The government has decided to create a Taka 10.0 billion special fund to boost jute production in the country for earning more foreign exchange incorporating jute into the list of agro-products
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Incentives necessary for jute growers

Once upon time jute was not only the principal cash-crop of the Bangladeshi farmers but also the prime source of foreign exchange earnings for Bangladesh. Those glorious days of jute are now on the wane.

In consequence, of late, the government is actively considering for giving jute the proud status of export as other agro-products of the country enjoy - it augurs well. So that this foreign exchange-earning sector could get the benefits other agro-based items get, the government declared that jute goods will be considered as agro-based products. Jute - the onetime golden fibre – was relegated to abject neglect in recent times. But, as mentioned above, once it was not only our main foreign exchange earner but it also played a vital factor behind our liberation war. Nevertheless, the jute growers were continuously deprived of fair price for their product since long before the 1971 liberation war and that continues even today.
But just before liberation, the country witnessed hey day of jute production and export of jute products. But in recent time the uncertainty of jute price and the poor return the jute growers get from jute production is disappointing. So they now feel discouraged and hesitant to cultivate for producing jute and so opted for other crops because of its uncertain and low price. As a result, the traditional golden fibre jute, once the life line of the country’s economy, gradually slipped into moribund state. The revival of the lost glory of jute demands flawless sincere planning with special focus on the farmers, who deserve all kinds of stimuli including financial subsidies and fair price for their product in the independent Bangladesh.

The government has decided to create a Taka 10.0 billion special fund to boost jute production in the country for earning more foreign exchange incorporating jute into the list of agro-products. This is aimed after meeting the local demand for the product. The special fund of Taka 10.0 billon will be like the Export Development Fund (EDF) of Bangladesh Bank (BB). Jute and jute goods exporters can get loans at low interest rate of only 2 per cent from the fund. At present the exporters manufacturing jute products using imported raw materials are getting loans at only 2 per cent interest rate from the EDF.

There lies the rub. Because the plan seems to be lopsided as it will look only after the interest of the jute exporters. But the initiative to revive the past glory of jute and jute industry overlooking the hurdles faced by farmers will be a futile exercise. The interests of the jute growers will have to be necessarily safeguarded too. We have sufficient experiences that many of the plans to augment the jute sector of the economy in the past became lame ducks because of the priority given to wrong places. Without giving necessary and sufficient incentives to the jute growers, quality and continuous production of jute is impossible. It is to be noted that the growth of export earnings from jute depends on the quality and uninterrupted supply of jute.  

Moreover, as the jute growers did not get fair price, they have been suffering big loss for successive years till today since independence. On the other hand, the middlemen prosper on the exploitation and loss of growers who consequently felt daunted to go on with jute cultivation for years. Under a law formulated in 2010, the government has made it mandatory to use jute bags for packaging 17 items including paddy, rice, wheat, corn, fertilizer, sugar, chili, onion, ginger, potato etcetera. Nevertheless, in majority of the cases the law is flouted by many and poly bags are used instead. If the practice persists the demand for jute bags will diminish in the local markets. Consequently, the use of environment polluting plastic or poly bags needs to be completely banned to give way to environment friendly jute bags.  Concern for the use of plastic is growing worldwide and jute products now can successfully fill up the void plastic elimination will create.

Moreover, it has been observed that the export of our raw jute and manufactured jute goods to the markets like Middle Eastern and African countries are at present facing various hurdles and bottlenecks. The relevant authorities need also to take necessary steps soon to remove the bottlenecks to the export of jute to those countries together with expanding the horizon of jute and jute goods exports market.

But to what the government must focus its attention at present is primarily to the man behind the plough growing jute to make the country’s jute sectors a success. Jute growers have to be assured of continuous receipt of just price of their produce for sustainable development of the sector.   

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General

Education Cadre

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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