At a time when the demand in the global market looks bleak, a local jute yarn manufacturer in Bogura's Dupchanchia upazila is bagging increasing orders for the golden fibre.
“Jute yarn has given us the opportunity to generate local jobs and get a hold of export orders,” said Suvash Prosad Kanu, managing director of North Bengal Golden Fiber & Diversify Jute Mills.
The mill started manufacturing jute yarn on a trial basis in the beginning of the year and has exported $600,000 worth of items since February.
Suvash and Biplab Prosad Kanu, his brother, together invested around Tk 30 crore to set up the mill by importing machinery from the UK.
The mill currently employs about 250 workers and is running at half capacity for a lack of quality jute.
The mill sources high-quality tossa jute of Indian variety from Faridpur district. “This is the only way to ensure high quality jute yarn,” said Suvash. The tossa jute fibre is softer, silkier and stronger than other varieties.
They buy a tonne of the high quality raw jute for Tk 55,000 (about $650) while they sell the same amount of processed jute for $600 to $3,400, depending on quality.
The mill produces 15 types of colour coated yarn that are used abroad to make packaging materials, household items, carpets and carpet backing cloth.
Suvash said the cost of manufacturing a tonne of high quality yarn is currently $1,200.
The two brothers have invested almost Tk 200 crore in different industries in the area, including aluminium utensils manufacturing and a newspaper mill, creating jobs for 1,200 workers in the remote area of Talora Bazar.
“The jute mill has the capacity to produce 15 tonnes of high value yarn a day,” said Md Hasan Ali, its executive director.
“Initially we used to buy 20 tonnes of diversified and high-valued colour coated jute yarn every month from the mill in Bogura. We have been exporting the yarn to the UK, the US, Australia and Japan,” said Anowar Hossain, managing director of a Dhaka-based export company GMAH International.
Shahidul Karim, general secretary of the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association, said the association's members export almost 6.5 lakh tonnes of jute yarn a year, mainly to the Middle East.
Ninety percent of Bangladesh's jute yarn exports are semi-finished raw jute that is mostly used in making carpets, he added.
Globally, the demand has dropped for an ongoing financial crisis and volatile political situation in countries like Iraq, Iran and Turkey which are famous for their luxurious carpets, Karim said. “The jute market will pick up once the situation normalises.”
Sumaiya, a 19-year-old worker of the mill, earns Tk 130 a day for her 8-hour shift. “Most of my neighbours in Talora village work at this factory or the other factories belonging to our management.”
Pratul Chanda Sarkar, deputy director of the Department of the Agricultural Extension in the district, said farmers in Bogura are now cultivating high quality tossa jute.
The increased farming of high quality jute makes Suvash more optimistic.
“We expect to run the mill at full capacity by January 2019 once the supply of quality raw jute increases.”