Higher export earnings despite drop in production in FY20-21
Farmers hold high hopes for jute this financial year as a result of buoyant prices in the domestic market and a surge in export growth for the cash crop amidst the protracted Covid-19 pandemic.
Sources in jute growing zones and the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) expect a higher yield this year, with the harvesting season drawing to an end with promises of increased production.
Although overall yearly production experienced some drops in recent years, Bangladesh managed to earn more from its exports of raw jute, jute yarn, sacks and other jute goods in FY2020-21 compared to the previous fiscal year.
Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) statistics show that jute and jute goods fetched over $1.1 billion in FY2020-21, which is over 30% higher than the export earnings of FY2019-20.
The higher export earnings come despite a drop in jute production from 8 million bales (in 2019-20) to 7.7 million bales in the last fiscal year, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Both official and market sources told Dhaka Tribune on Monday that there was news of good harvests from all major jute growing zones, including Faridpur, Tangail, Jessore, Sirajganj, Bogra, Rangpur, Jamalpur and greater Dhaka.
They also said the current jute demand is predominantly being driven by a stronger export market and private jute mills.
The demand may have been higher provided all state-run mills remained in operation, they said.
Failing to curb graft and management inefficiencies that cost the government huge losses over the past few years, the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) shut down all 26 remaining public jute mills on July 1 last year.
The BJMC is now in the process of resuming operations at least in 17 of these mills under a lease out arrangement, but it is still unclear how long the process may take.
Meanwhile, jute farmers expressed concern that many jute merchants (farias and middlemen) are not being able to buy enough jute from the growers, as BJMC mills have yet to clear some of their arrears.