Although the present government is committed to bringing back the glory of jute, once called the ‘Golden Fibre of Bangladesh’, the pledge has not turned into a reality as jute cultivation is declining in Magura due to reluctance of farmers.
According to Magura’s Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), last year jute was cultivated on 32,720 hectares of land in the district, and this year it was cultivated on 30,550 hectares of land.
Some farmers said they were losing interest in jute cultivation for its low price, increased production cost, scarcity of quality seeds and lack of water in water bodies.
“Production cost of jute is rising day by day, contrarily the price of jute is decreasing day by day. Jute rotting is necessary to upgrade the quality of jute fibre. But the three rivers of the district – Nabaganga, Chitra and Modhumoti – are almost dead now,” said a farmer of sadar upazila, adding that “We are facing difficulties while rotting jute due to the lack of water in the rivers.”
Supply of quality seeds is quite inadequate compared to the demand for jute, he added.
Jute Directory, Magura has distributed only 400 kilograms of seeds this year while farmers need 200,000 kilograms.
Failing to get seeds from the jute directory, many farmers could not cultivate jute on their land.
Although the government opened purchasing centres to ensure reasonably priced jute for the farmers, last year there were only three government purchasing centres in the district.
The number was insufficient compared with necessity. Moreover, middlemen dominated over the purchasing centres depriving real jute farmers, said Sher Ali, a farmer of Jagla village under Magura sadar upazila.
He said: “Last year I cultivated jute on two bighas of land that left me with only 10 mounds of jute for which I got only Tk12,000.”
“Due to this I have not cultivated jute this year,” he added.
Another farmer Miraj Mian of Parla village under Magura sadar upazila said: Last year I cultivated jute on three bighas of land. I did not get any crop as I purchased low quality Indian seeds.
“Many other farmers like me were cheated by being sold Indian seeds.” he said.
When contacted, Abdul Latif, executive engineer of Magura’s Water Development Board said the three rivers of the district have lost navigability.
“We are unable to run dredging due to lack of funding,” he added.
When contacted, Mokhlesur Rahaman, deputy director of Magura’s DAE said jute cultivation is less this year compared to last year.
The government has sanctioned allocation in national budget of 2013-14 for a scheme to bring in more jute seeds, he said.
The scheme will hopefully resolve the just seed crisis.