Jute prospects brighten as people go eco-savvy
The prospects of jute brighten due to the use of environment friendly fibre to make various products, UN-sponsored International Jute Study Group (IJSG) said yesterday.
Headquartered in Dhaka, the organisation said jute-made shopping and food grade bags, composite, geo-textiles, pulp and paper have a huge market potential in the face of rising environmental consciousness and demand for green products.
The demand for jute shopping bags is increasing rapidly as different governments and city authorities across the world are taking steps to reduce the use of plastic bags, said IJSG at a press meet at its office.
IJSG is an inter-governmental panel set up under the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) to function as the international commodity body of jute, kenaf and allied fibres.
IJSG Secretary General Bhupendra Singh, Operations Officer Dr Latifa Binte Lutfar and Chairman of Private Sector Consultative Board of IJSG Md Rezaul Karim were present.
"The European Union is considering a ban on the use of polythene bags, which can create a huge demand for jute bags in future," said the organisation in a statement, issued to mark a decade of its journey with the green fibre-- jute.
The IJSG was established in 2002 to create awareness about the benefits of jute and promote its use globally.
So far, the 30-nation body carried out 35 projects, involving $12.5 million, in its member countries, mostly in Bangladesh and India, it said.
According to IJSG, demand for food grade jute bags rises due to sustainability initiatives taken by coffee and cocoa producing countries.
The future demand is likely to be 32 million bags a year, while the present supply is only 12 million bags.
The prospect of jute composite is also bright, it said, citing areas such as toys, automobiles and furniture. Eco-friendly automobiles alone will require around 500,000 tonnes of jute per year, according to IJSG.
The use of jute geo-textiles also rises for rural road construction, river bank protection and hill slop management. This has a huge market potential in Asia and developed countries, said IJSG.
The future demand for the item is estimated to be 5,300 square kilometres annually, said the body.
On jute paper and pulp, IJSG said jute pulp can be used to make paper. Myanmar, Vietnam and China took initiative and succeeded in making paper from pulp, it said.
Replacing the existing tree-based paper by jute pulp paper will require 490 million tonnes of jute a year, it said.
"It will create alternative markets for jute farmers," IJSG Secretary General Singh said.
Technology for jute based pulp and paper is not feasible at the moment. That is why the private sector is not using it, Singh added.
But with the number of trees decreasing gradually, countries will have to move to jute pulp for making paper, he said.
IJSG now works on framing a joint strategy document to identify and remove the existing constraints and support to harness the opportunity for the jute sector, said Operations Officer Dr Latifa Binte Lutfar.
Bangladesh is the second biggest producer of jute after India. Globally, the country is the top supplier of bio-degradable natural fibre.