Export slump hurts jute cultivationABM Enamul Hassan
The country’s jute cultivation acreage reduced by 2.24 per cent in the current year because of falling demand of the fibre and a slump in export of jute and jute products.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension told New Age that acreage for jute cultivation reduced to 7.43 lakh hectares this year from 7.60 lakh hectares last year.
They said the farmers were reluctant to cultivate jute this year because of a fall in demand, which led to a price slump.
‘The farmers who cultivated jute last year did not get the fair price for their produce. Farmers cultivated jute heavily on a large scale last year after a bumper 2010-11 season when the country’s jute export boomed,’ said a DAE official.
But according to Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau the country’s jute export decreased by 13.69 per cent in the first 11 months of the year compared with the same period of the last year.
They said that 26.03 per cent of the strategic export target for July-May period of the current year has remained unfulfilled, while the performance of last year for the same period marked 3.09 per cent higher than the strategic target.
EPB data showed that jute and jute products export earned $889.45 million against the target of $1,202.51 million in July-May period of the current year, while it was $1,030.57 million against the target of $999.72 million for the same period of the last year.
Raw jute, jute yarn and twine and sacks and bags export fell by 41.48, 17.05 and 21.78 per cent respectively from the target set for the first 11 months of the current year, according to EPB.
As a result of export reduction, the price of jute and jute products decreased in domestic market that compelled many farmers to abandon jute cultivation.
Farmers got Tk 400-1,500 for a maund of jute fibre in late 2011 against the price of Tk 1,500-Tk 2,500 in late 2010.
Talukder Firoz Ahmed, deputy director (jute production) of the DAE, said that if the government gives financial incentives and facilities like other corps, jute cultivation could be increased in the coming days.
Along with increasing export, fair price of jute has to be ensured for cultivators to restore the golden days of the natural fibre, said Mohammed Abul Kalam Azad, deputy director (marketing) of the DAE.
The exporters blamed political turmoil in Middle East and economic crisis in European states which caused sluggish demand for the natural fibre, the second biggest foreign currency earner after apparel.
Middle East, North African countries and Turkey import most of Bangladesh’s jute yarn to use as raw material for making carpets. But presently they have reduced jute yarn import because of their financial crisis, exporters said.
Abdul Barik Khan, secretary general of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association, told New Age on Saturday that depreciation of the Indian rupee against the US dollar is affecting the export of jute goods to India, a major destination for jute exports.
The global economic crisis, political turmoil in Middle East and ongoing economic sanction on Iran and Syria also hurt jute exports in those countries, he added.
Abdul Barik demanded the government to provide uninterrupted power supply to jute mills, bank loan on 7 per cent interest for the traders and the same facilities with both the private and public sector jute mills to increase export of jute and jute products.
He was critical of the government proposal to impose source duty on export from 0.60 per cent to 1.20 per cent. It will decrease export further, he added.
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