Jute Industry in India – An Overview
Associate Professor (SFDA)
Hindustan University, Chennai
Jute is the second important fibre crop of India, next to cotton crop. Now-a-days in the world market Jute is in great demand because of the cheapness, softness, strength, length, lustre, uniformity and specially for eco-friendly of its fibre. Jute industry in India plays a vital role in the Indian economy, providing direct employment to about 0.26 million workers, and supporting the lives of around 4.0 million farm families. There is a strong basic structure for the jute industry available in India. In this article I will discuss elaborately about jute industry in India.
Uses of Jute:
Jute is used for producing a huge variety of utility products like gunny bags, hessian, ropes, strings, carpets, rugs and clothes, tarpaulins, upholstery and decoration pieces. In recent time jute fibre is also used to manufacturing men’s shirting materials and women’s sarees, salwar-khameez material, after making softness process of the fibre. Linen fabrics are now a days introduced in the textile market of India.
Conditions of Growth:
Jute is normally the crop of hot and humid climate. It needs the high temperature varying from 24°C to 35°C and heavy rainfall of 120 to 150 cm with 80 to 90 per cent relative humidity during the period of its growth Small amount of pre-monsoon rainfall varying from 25 cm to 55 cm is very much useful .It helps in the proper growth of the jute plant up to the reach of the appropriate monsoon. Incessant and untimely rainfalls as well as prolonged droughts are detrimental to this crop. Rainfall between 2.5 to 7.5 cm in a month is required,During the sowing period is considered to be much enough.
In addition to this, Occasional showers varying from 2 to 3 cm at intervals of a week’s time during the growing period are considered to be important. Abundant amount of water is required not only for growing the jute crop but also for handling the fibre after the crop is harvested.
Light sandy or clayey muds are considered to be good suited soils for jute. Since jute rapidly drains the fertility of soil, it is compulsory that the soil is refilled yearly by the silt-laden flood water of the rivers. Huge supply of inexpensive labour is also necessary for increasing and processing the jute fibre.
Technique of Cultivating and Treating of Jute:
Jute is commonly sown in February on lowlands and in March-May on uplands. The crop takes 8- 10 months to mature but different varieties take the altered time to mature. The harvesting period usually starts in July and last still the month of October.
The plants are cut to the ground and tied into bundles. Sheaves of jute stocks are then engrossed in flood water or ponds or stagnant water for about 2 to 3 weeks for retting. High temperature of water accelerates the process of retting. After retting is complete, the bark is peeled from the plant and fibre is removed.
After this, stripping, rinsing, washing and cleaning is done and the fibre is dried in the sun and pressed into bales. All this process is to be done by human hand. Availability of plenty of labour at low-cost rates is very much important. Coincidentally, this workforce is readily available because jute is cultivated in areas of high population density.
India agonized a great obstruction in the production of jute as a result of partition of the country in 1947 because about 75 per cent of the jute producing areas went to Bangladesh (East Pakistan at that time) Providentially, most of the jute mills remained in India. Energetic efforts were made to growth of the production and area of jute, instantaneously after partition to nourish our ravenous jute mills in the wake of short supply of raw jute.
After this interval the area under jute cultivation varied between 0.8 million hectares and 0.9 million hectares. The overall increase in jute production, in spite of jute zone remaining more or less the same, is principally due to the increase in yields.
The yield of jute almost doubled from 1,183 kg/hectare in 1960- 61 to 2,183 kg/hectare in 2003-04. This is a great achievement keeping in view the geographical limitations under which jute cultivation can be carried on.
Besides 0.5 million people are involved in raw jute and finished goods trading and ancillary activities. Currently India accounts for about 66 per cent of world jute production as compared to only 25 per cent produced by Bangladesh.
R&D work is carried by the farming experts during the last few years has not only resulted in increasing yield of the fibre but also in improvement of the fibre quality and shortening of cultivation period.
West Bengal is the acknowledged ruler of jute production in India accounting for over four-fifths of the production and nearly three-fourths of the area under jute. Here hot and humid climate and alluvial, loamy soil attached with cheap abundant labour provide the par excellence conditions for the growth of jute.
Nevertheless, major part of the production comes from Nadia, Murshidabad, 24 Parganas, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Hugli, West Dinajpur, Bardhaman, Maldah and Medinipur districts. The entire jute production is consumed in the jute mills located in the Hugli basin.
Bihar is the second largest producer but lagging far behind West Bengal in the production of jute accounting only for about 9.72 per cent of the production and over 17 per cent of the area of the country under jute. Purnea is the largest producing district accounting for 60 per cent of Bihar s production. Katihar, Saharsa and Darbhanga are the other producing districts.
With about 6.68 per cent of the production and 7.88 per cent of the area of the country, Assam is the third largest jute producing state of India. The main concentration is in the Brahmaputra and Surma valleys. Goalpara, Kamrup, Nowgong, Darrang and Sibsagar are the main producing districts.
Among the other producers, is Orissa, where Cuttack, Puri and Bolangir are the main producers. In Uttar Pradesh, areas along the Himalayan foothills including Kheri, Bahraich and Sitapur districts are the main producers. Some jute is also produced in Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh.
India’s production of jute always falls short of her requirements and it is imported to feed our jute mills. Bangladesh is the chief supplier of jute to India. There are year to year oscillations in the quantity and value of jute imported by India.
Being a natural fiber, jute is biodegradable and as such “environment friendly”. The principal products can be reused and, as a result, many have a secondary value for other users. Despite such positive features, the world market for jute has remained depressed. The major cause of such a situation is the growth of alternates like plastic.
Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.