The government implemented the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010, which was enforced in January 2014, to promote the country’s jute sector. Though the act met with slight resistance at first, consumers’ positive reactions provided a strong push toward compliance.
According to the act, all commodities must be packaged in bags made of jute. Violators face punishment of a maximum of one year in jail or a fine of Tk50,000 or both for using non-biodegradable synthetics for packaging.
Initially, the government had mandated six agricultural commodities – paddy, rice, wheat, maze, sugar and fertiliser – to have jute packaging. Later, however, eleven other commodities – ginger, garlic, onion, potato, fish feed, poultry feed, flour, chillies, pulse, coriander and rice bran – were also brought under the law.
According to the Ministry of Textiles and Jute’s Department of Jute, in the last fiscal year, 1.3m bales of jute were required to supply 300m jute sacks to the local market.
Md Abdul Jalil, director of Department of Jute, said the local demand stands at around 1bn annually, and to meet that demand, 3.5m bales of raw jute would be needed.
The rice millers, one of the key players in the implementation of the act, initially showed an unwillingness to use package their commodities in jute sacks, especially given the low supply of said packaging.
However, after much pressure from the government in the form of mobile court hearings and penalties, since November 30, most of the rice millers have converted to using jute sacks to pack their products.
Nirod Baran Saha, convener of Naogaon Rice Millers Association, said the millers have been following governmental instructions and using jute sacks for packaging.
“Earlier, we were concerned about receiving a consistent supply of jute sacks, but now that the government is working to ensure a steady supply, we are perfectly amenable to the act,” he added.
The jute situation
Currently there are 24 government owned jute mills in Bangladesh. Of them, 22 are production based and the remaining two usually produce machinery for jute mills.
There are nine mills located in Khulna and Jessore, seven in Chittagong, two each in Narshingdi and Demra in Dhaka and one each in Rajshahi and Sirajganj.
With the implementation of the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010, the government plans to boost the production of raw jute from the coming season so there is enough stock to meet the domestic demand and still be able to export raw jute again.
“Steps have already been taken to increase the production of raw jute and resume exports,” said the Abdul, director of the Department of Jute.
The government has set a production target of 8.5m bales of raw jute for this year. Last years’ total production was 8.25m bale.
The Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and private sector mills require around 6m bales to prepare sacks and other jute made products, around 1.5m bales for raw jute export and the rest for small scale local use.