What should Bangladesh do in restoring the glory of jute?
Because of the government eco-friendly policy towards export destination, an opportunity has been created across the world for jute diversified products. Bangladesh has to take initiatives to grab the opportunity and set comprehensive a long-term road map to attain the goal. Secondly, it requires a comprehensive plan with long, medium and short-term tenure to tap the opportunities.
What should the government do to encourage new entrepreneurs?
Investment in modern technology and new entrepreneurship are the key to bringing back the glory of jute. But, existing fiscal policy is not in favour of new entrepreneurs as it does not treat the sector as a separate business window. To draw investment, the government has to ensure low-cost finance to new and existing entrepreneurs to establish new factories and diversify products to tap the opportunity in both the local and export markets.
In this regard, the government can consider using green financing, refinancing scheme and Export Development Fund (EDF). Jute and jute diversified sector do not enjoy the financing from these instruments.
How can Bangladesh innovate designs and quality of jute products?
Currently, there is no specific institution in Bangladesh, which works on the jute diversified products. Also we do not have enough information on the market demand and supply capacity. I think the government should concentrate on the issue to establish new institute to launch the department in the existing education institute.
How does home textile and apparel sector help jute sector?
There is a huge opportunity in the home textile as it needs thick fabrics, which are usually made from jute. On the other hand, furniture covers, window curtain and other home decor products are made from it. Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) has taken initiative to use jute fabrics for denim. What we need is to be coordinated.
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Do you think compulsory packaging act enough for sector revival?
It is a good initiative but not enough to restore the glory of golden fibre. Effective implementation of compulsory packaging act can ensure 30% consumption of jute. But, we need to think out of the box to consume the rest production and focus should be on diversification and high value added products.
What are the challenges facing the sector?
Ensuring fair prices for farmers is a big challenge as they are the suppliers of raw jute. To ensure fair price for jute, direct purchase from farmers has to be ensured and the government has to establish warehouse to reserve jute during the lean period. Jute processing should be scientific and well managed to get a better color from it. On the other hand, recognition of jute diversified products (JDP) as agricultural product is another challenge for the sector.
How can we draw the buyers’ attention?
It is very important to inform the buyers about Bangladesh’s capacity and jute product variety to draw their attention. Now it is high time the country got to ensure global supply chain for jute products. Manufacturers and Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) have to take the lead in familiarising the jute products through display global expo. Maintaining relation with the existing supply chain, we also have to create bridge with new buyers and explore new markets.
How can our farmers be benefitted?
If we want to get real benefits to the farmers we have to ensure high yield seed for more production and ensure better price for their survival. Currently, Bangladesh meets 10% demands locally while 90% are met by import. In this regard, farmers as well as the sector people have to concentrate on direct collection and production of seeds.
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What was the achievement of jute day and expo?
The aim of observing the jute day on March 6 and holding jute expo was to draw the attention of policy makers and domestic consumers. In the expo, there was a sale of worth Tk7 crore jute diversified products. Manufacturers had a great opportunity to display products under a common roof, which had been able to convince the government about the potential of diversified products.
What does the sector need in the next budget for the fiscal 2017?
We do not have enough skilled workforce for the sector but have lots of young and educated people. If the government and the sector people come up with the training initiatives, there will have no shortage of workforce. That is why, the government needs to keep a block allocation in the next budget for skill development and research. On other other hand, low-cost financing is a must to upgrade the existing machinery. In the current budget, the government has offered 20% cast incentives, but we need its quick implementation.
How can household use contribute to the usage of more jute products?
In recent times, lifestyle has changed in Bangladesh and people are choosing different items including curtain, furniture cover, shoes, bags made from jute. As a result, home decor items have created a huge market for the products. In the local market, consumption of jute products is going over 7% a year.
How Jute can create employment?
The industry is a labour incentive sector and can create a good number of jobs in the country. In recent years, export of raw jute to China has seen downturn and the country has started importing yarn, which can create jobs for local manufacturers. On the other hand, demand for jute bags would be manifold higher in the European countries as they are set to ban use of polythene replacing environmentally friendly jute bags.