For a long time jute was a burden on farmers due to a consistent loss, but the crop got back its former glory once again, with a promising yield
Jute farmers in Thakurgaon district are happy with a robust jute crop this year, and the fair price it is fetching in local markets this ongoing harvest season.
Jute is known as the ‘Golden Fiber’ for its market value and also it's golden brown color. In terms of usage, production, and global consumption, jute is second only to cotton.
Jute is an annual crop and 80% of it is grown in Bangladesh and the fertile Ganges Delta. Jute is not only environmentally friendly and durable, but is also one of the most affordable of fibers. Jute plants are comparatively easy to grow, have a high yield per acre, and unlike cotton, has little need for pesticides and fertilizers.
For a long time jute was a burden on farmers due to a consistent loss, but the crop got back its former glory once again, with a promising yield.
According to Thakurgaon Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), jute has already met 99% of this year's production target. To meet increasing global demand and anticipating higher profits, farmers of the district extended jute cultivation this year to an additional 150 hectares of land compared to last year.
The farmers planted jute on 5,860 hectares of land against a target of 5,920 hectares this year. Last year jute was cultivated on 5,710 hectares of land. Farmers secured the crop yield on 1,210 hectares of land in Sadar upazila, 1,600 hectares in Baliadangi, 950 hectares in Ranisankail, 1,250 hectares in Pirganj, and 800 hectares in Haripur. The crop variety includes Tosha, Mechta, Deshi, Kenaf, and HB-45.
Jute farmers are raking in more profits compared to paddy farmers, due to better production, lower labor cost and increasing demand for the crop.
This year a maund of jute fibre is earning farmers Tk1700 to Tk1800 in local markets, exceeding their expectations.
A farmer from Gauripur village of Jagannathpur union, Nurul Islam said he was happy with the price of jute this year and he made a profit of Tk1800 per maund. For 28 maunds he secured Tk24000 in profits from his two bighas of land.
Another farmer, Taslim Uddin, said: "I planted on an acre of land. I made a profit of Tk12000 from one bigha of land and expect to profit on the rest of my crop.
Both farmers are happy with market prices and made a good profit on their production.
Saiful Islam, a jute grower from Raipur union conveyed to Dhaka Tribune that though he made a profit, it was hard to cultivate jute for the lack of water bodies needed for retting (soaking the jute to separate its fibre)
"When jute is being retted in a water body the water gets a bit polluted. That is why we don't ret the crop in ponds used for fish farming," he said.
Another farmer, Abdul Latif, said the same. He said farmers ret the crop in temporary water bodies that are typically brought by the monsoon rains.
When the jute is ripe for harvest, the process of separating the fibre from the crop provides work for day laborers hired by farmers. First the crop is cut, then baled up and retted, followed by the outer layers being stripped to harvest the fibre, and finally the fiber is dried.
A day laborer from Gauripur village of Sadar upazila, said: "I earned Tk400-500 daily from the jute fibre harvesting process for a month. I can't have this income when there is no jute cultivation in my area."
The same was true for day laborers Shahabul and Ali Ajgar from Nargun village, and Hembala and Sharifa from Shukhan-pukuria village.
Thakurgaon Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Deputy Director Aftab Hossain said: "This year there was not much damage done to the jute crop by harmful insects, and farmers were interested in growing the crop. Hopefully jute yield will be higher this year compared to last year.
He added that farmers will make a good profit since the market price for jute in the market is also quite good.