Centre to request states to pack paddy, vegetables in jute bags
The Centre will request state governments like West Bengal to package paddy and vegetables in jute bags as it explores avenues to generate additional demand for jute, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said on Friday.
Admitting that the biggest challenge for diversification of jute was that many farmers do not have access to certified seeds, Irani said, to promote its cultivation, it has been decided that Krishi Vigyan Kendras will reach out to farmers and tell them about the viability of better farming practices. "We have seen that Bangladesh has had a higher export (of jute) because they have ensured that more of their farmers are encompassed within the certified seeds process.
"We recently held a meeting with the Agriculture Minister and invited all the jute producing states to implore that they in conjunction with the National Seed Corporation have more jute farmers using certified seeds. We are hopeful that the states will comply with that request," Irani said in the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour.
West Bengal alone produces 78 per cent of the jute produced in India.
"We have continuously engaged with states which are jute producing and have a huge infrastructure like jute mill component to ensure that they strengthen the industry there, which includes strengthening the working conditions of the people in the organised sector," Irani said.
The Minister pointed out that a diversified jute product known as geotextiles is emerging and has a huge role to play in terms of industry diversification prospects.
She said it would be helpful in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for Smart Cities, as she elaborated on the diversified uses of jute like in building technology, in better life capacity of roads when used in their contruction and also in containing landslides, apart from curbing pollution.
Irani observed that diversification in conjunction with technology was possible in the jute sector and supported by the government but the foundation has to be strengthened through better farming practices. She said that farm income goes up with inter cropping and new technologies being inserted.
She mentioned that out of 97 composite mills in the country, 88 were in the private sector.
Irani also said that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad to help the jute industry through design intervention and improve the quality of their products.
Observing that traditionally the jute mills are dependent on the packaging orders they get from the Centre and states, she said the Centre was writing to state governments, especially like West Bengal, requesting them to pack paddy and rice in jute, which will generate additional demand of 80,000 metric tonnes.
She said the Centre has also requested states to package potatoes and other vegetables in jute hessian bags which will generate 40,000 metric tonnes of demand.
For every acre of jute crop, about 6 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide is absorbed and 4.4 metric tonnes of oxygen is released into the atmospehere, she added.