The jute sector of Bangladesh has not been enjoying a vibrant time for the past many years, although climate has awarded it the opportunity to turn to be the natural home to the best quality jute.
It is not that the demand for jute in the international market is on the wane. In fact, it is completely the opposite because of growing threats posed to climate by synthetics used in lieu of jute goods. But, the country is losing the hold of the string because of its failure to address the core issues that hold back its progress.
The decoding of genome sequence of jute by Bangladeshi scientist was expected to design rational strategies for disease control and develop fungus-resistant crops and seeds.
The government also highly applauded the project which prospected a cost-effective way to produce more endurable jute crops. But, no visible guidance and even any talks regarding this have been seen till date. How the Prime Minister's note that the golden fibre of Bangladesh will bring back our golden smile will come true remains ambiguous.
In Bangladesh, raw jute produced from inferior quality Indian seeds is of low standard. As a result, demand for our jute products is declining in the international market. Bangladesh falls short of jute seeds as per national demand. So, the country has to depend on imported seeds. Self-reliance in jute seed production could have been achieved if the genome code invention could be applied with the government's direct support.
The present government passed a law making the use of jute packaging mandatory in manufactured goods both in the private and public sectors. But the law did not improve the situation in any way. On the contrary, banned polythene bags have come back in every shopper's hand.
Corruption in the sector, shutting-down of jute mills one after another, and throwing-out of thousands of employees have hastened the ruination of a promising sector. Also, the sector is allotted only 10 per cent subsidy whereas our neighbour India allots twice more than ours.
The sector could be revived and reinvigorated through diversification of jute goods which could minimise reliance on synthetic products. Again, the expansion of demand for our jute and jute products in the international markets will help us get back the top exporter status yet again. The government just needs to address the issuesexpeditiously.
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