Raw jute prices hit new high
Raw jute prices hit a new high as the natural fibre traded for as much as Tk 5,300 per maund (one maund equals 37 kilogrammes) at local markets in Faridpur, the biggest producing district, as supply shortage became acute.
The latest data shows that prices soared 29 per cent in just over two weeks from Tk 4,100-4,200 per maund in the third week of January, according to traders.
"The market has gone wild. It appears that prices are soaring every hour and there is no scope to seek a bargain," said Mohammad Shahidul Islam Dulal, proprietor of Progress International, a jute trader and exporter.
Prices of raw jute began rising after harvesting began in the July-August period last year.
Prices of the eco-friendly fibre crossed Tk 3,000 per maund in September amid stockpiling by middlemen and slow release by farmers seeking to profit amid speculations that production fell as a result of floods and unfavourable weather.
The soaring prices created concerns among millers, who warned last week that most mills might be shut in the next one or two months due to a shortage of raw jute to make jute yarn, twine, bags, sacks and other goods.
Millers said total production would be 55 lakh bales in the last season while Hossain Ali Khondoker, director general of the Department of Jute (DoJ), said that they expected production of 74 lakh bales.
Now it appears that overall production would be around 55-60 lakh bales, he said.
In order to keep factories running, the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association (BJSA) and Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) in a letter to the Ministry of Textiles and Jute last week urged the government to fully ban raw jute exports and allow imports until June 2021.
Traders in Faridpur district blamed poor supply of raw jute for the spiralling price.
Md Abul Hasan, a jute trader of Baliagotti market under Saltha upazila of Faridpur, has been engaged in the trade since 2004.
He said the high price of the fibre affected his purchases as he could not buy as much as needed.
"During the jute harvesting period, I bought 250-300 maunds of raw jute daily but now, I cannot buy more than 70 maunds a day at this time," he said.
Md Khokon Matabbar, another jute trader of Kanaipur bazar under Faridpur sadar upazila, said raw jute was sold at Tk 2,200-2,400 per maund in local markets during the harvesting season.
"It is really unthinkable that raw jute is being sold at Tk 5,300 per maund," he said.
However, traders warn that prices are likely to go up further.
There are some dishonest businessmen, who stocked raw jute during the harvesting season.
"Now, they are getting profit from the jute," he added.
Production of raw jute was very low last year, said Omar Ali Mollah, a jute grower at Faridpur sadar upazila. He got only 50 maunds of jute from more than 3 acres last season compared to 70 maunds the previous season.
Mollah said he sold all his produce at Tk 2,400 per maund after harvesting.
"Farmers cannot profit from the current prices," he added.
Contacted, DoJ Director General Khondoker said his office has asked the district administration to conduct mobile court drives to reduce hoarding and keep jute prices stable.
"Our field offices conduct drives through mobile courts to curb illegal stocking," he said.
The DoJ had earlier told the local administration that no registered traders would be able to hold more than 1,000 maunds a month and none without licence could be involved in jute trading.