The price of raw jute has fallen by about Tk 500 per maund (37 kilograms) at local markets in Faridpur district, thereby depriving farmers and traders of higher profits, local sources said.
Raw jute sold for between Tk 3,000 and Tk 3,500 per maund just last week but now, the price ranges from Tk 2,500 to Tk 3,000 per maund, according to data from the Department of Jute.
Jute farmers and traders allege that prices fell as a result of decreased demand from millers and exporters, many of whom just recently resumed operations following prolonged closures due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, raw jute prices had reached as much as Tk 6,500 per maund in the country’s northwestern region, namely the Rangpur division, where 70 of the 200 jute mills listed under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) are based in.
These mills cater to both local and foreign demand for hessian, jute bags, and cloth but sales were practically nil in the face of declining work orders amid the Covid-induced economic downturn.
Besides, jute production was inadequate last year due to unfavorable weather conditions, pushing prices up to their highest point in history.
Jute was cultivated on 6.80 lakh hectares of land to produce 77.25 lakh bales of the produce in fiscal 2020-21, down from 6.79 lakh hectares and 80.45 lakh bales respectively the previous year, showed data from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
This year though, yields and acreage had increased as jute production rose by about 5 percent year-on-year to 169,989 bales from 16,088 hectares of land in the Tangail district.
As a result, farmers who spent about Tk 5,000 to produce around five maunds of raw jute per bigha (33 decimals) expressed satisfaction over the yield.
But during a recent visit to the Thanthania jute market in Saltha Upazila of Faridpur, this correspondent found farmers of different villages were selling jute for about Tk 2,500 per maund.
Abdul Halim Matubbar, a farmer of Chowlia village in Saltha Upazila, said he got 42 maunds of jute from his three bighas of land this year.
“I sold five maunds of jute at Tk 3,400 per maund in a local market last week but I sold another 10 maunds at Tk 2,900 per maund today [Sunday],” he said.
“I have to sell all my jute no matter what as I borrowed money to cultivate it,” Matubbar added.
Rup Kumar Mandal, a jute farmer of Boutipara village under Nagarkanda Upazila said, he got 48 maunds of jute from 2.8 bighas of land this year.
“I sold five maunds of jute in Nagarkanda jute market last week at Tk 3,400 per maund but I sold about 10 maunds on Saturday at Tk 2,900 per maund,” he added.
Similarly, Karuna Kanta Mandal, a farmer of the same area, said he sold 10 maunds of jute at Tk 3,500 per maund 15 days ago but the selling price has since gradually fallen.
The price of raw jute has declined as millers and exporters do not buy as much as they used to, according to Soleman Mia, a jute trader of Thantania jute market.
“The price of jute thread at the international level has decreased as well and so, millers and exporters have less demand. For this reason, the price of raw jute has come down,” said Gomal Sarwar, chief inspector of the Department of Jute in Faridpur.
If the price of thread increases, the jute price will automatically rise, he added.
Jahangir Hossain Mia, chairman of Karim Group, said, it is true that they do not buy as much jute as they had in previous years as they do not need to supply the thread produced this season.
“Besides, export costs have sharply increased and so has the price of thread, leading to decreased supply,” Mia added.