Bangladeshi Farmers are set to get best quality jute this harvesting season as water availability from increased rainfall will facilitate proper retting, said agriculturists and jute industry executives.
Retting is the process of extracting best quality jute fibers from tied bundles of jute stalks. There are four available retting processes and one of them is the water or microbial retting, a century-old but the most popular process in extracting fine jute fibers.
Thanks to proper retting, jute fibres will have good colour and better strength, said a senior official of state-owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) that operates 23 jute mills. However, production may not be higher this season despite increased acreage.
Farmers have sown jute on 8.18 lakh hectares this year, up 11 percent year-on-year, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension’s estimate.
The agency has targeted 88 lakh bales (1 bale = 181 kg) of raw jute production this year.
The total raw jute yield was 82.46 lakh bales in last fiscal year, up 9 percent from fiscal 2015-16, according to data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
“I am not that excited about the quantity,” Huq said, adding that the growth of plants appears to have stunted owing to prolonged rains in April, May and June in comparison with previous years.
Flood may affect the quality of fibre in the northeast district of Jamalpur, one of the main growing regions, said the BJMC official. But crops look good in Faridpur and some of the northwest districts.
“Yield loss might be minimal for increased monsoon,” said a senior DAE official. Higher acreage will offset the loss of per unit yield, so production is unlikely to decline.
Md Mahbubul Islam, chief scientific officer of Bangladesh Jute Research Institute, reiterated the same. The average yield of jute is 2 tonnes per hectare. “From that point of view, production may increase,” he added.
Bangladesh is the largest best quality jute producer of the bio-degradable fiber in the World, and two-thirds of its domestic production is shipped abroad.
Of the total domestic production, jute mills consume over 60 percent to make jute yarn, jute sacks, jute bags and other diversified jute products items. More than 10 percent are exported as raw jute and the rest is used by growers to meet their requirement for ropes and other items.
Jute is the third largest export earning sector of Bangladesh after garment and leather.
Export receipts from jute and jute goods edged up 5 percent year-on-year to $962 million in fiscal 2016-17, according to Export Promotion Bureau.
About Four Million farmers grow best quality jute for cash by supplying to the domestic mills, which was once the biggest industrial sector.