We applaud the government for its recent plan to create a Tk 10,000-crore fund to encourage the jute sector. At a time when there's a growing demand for eco-friendly products due to growing concerns over environmental degradation, in particular, the plastic pollution, such a low-interest loan fund would certainly help boost this USD 1 billion export earning fibre.
Once a financial lifeline of what was our agriculture-based economy, the jute industry has had a bumpy ride since the 80s, when synthetic materials like polythene and plastics were introduced, resulting in many jute mills closing down around the country. Lately, however, the export of jute and jute products crossed a billion dollars, and the government has taken a series of steps to boost the industry.
The government's decision to funnel money to the jute industry came after it had enforced mandatory use of jute sacks for imported rice and, more recently, imposed a five-percent duty on plastic and polythene bags. In particular, the jute-made biodegradable bags, invented by a Bangladeshi scientist in collaboration with the government, will now have more serious prospects to replace environmentally harmful polythene bags.
Such efforts to revitalise the jute's past glory may also help diversify the economy when we are seeking ways to reduce our dependence on the readymade garment sector. Most importantly, since the jute industry is labour intensive, innumerable new jobs may be created in the process. The government would do better if it also focuses on investing money in studies and research projects to discover new uses and prospects of our versatile and long-lasting “golden fibre”.