Global Situation of Jute Industries and Future Road Map
International Jute Study Group
At the very onset I would like to express my gratitude for giving me this opportunity to say a few words on the “Global Situation of jute industries and future Road Map” in the inaugural
ceremony of the International Symposium on „Jute and Allied Fibres Production, Utilization and Marketing‟. The Symposium is being organized at a time when awareness about the pollution
free environment is being built up world wide and a tendency is growing up to use more natural fibre products. In this context it would be relevant to inform you that the UN General Assembly has declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres. The programme would be observed through out the world by different fibre groups. The International Jute Study Group, (IJSG), the International Commodity Body (ICB) for Jute, Kenaf and Allied fibres, would also draw a programme of its own to observe the IYNF in a befitting manner.
Jute, popularly called the 'Golden Fiber', is a plant that yields a fibre used for sacking and cordage. Known as the raw material for sacks the world over, jute is truly one of the most versatile fibres gifted to man by nature that finds various uses from Technical textiles to Handicrafts. Next to cotton, jute is the cheapest and most important of all textile fibers. Jute is the cheapest ligno-cellulosic, long vegetable bast fibre available in the world. Jute cultivation provides direct employment for millions of farmers, landless labourers, industrial workers including women and provides livelihood for many more, indirectly.
It would be relevant to mention that ever since jute was first mechanically spun in Dundee it has used a modified version of flax carding, and spinning technology. But now jute requires processing machinery for producing various types of new products as well as for producing better quality traditional products. It may be mentioned here that the last major technological change was in the 1950s when the industry adopted sliver spinning instead of spinning from twisted „roving.‟ Since then sadly enough, unlike cotton and synthetic textiles, there has been very little effort to innovate and develop exclusive jute machinery.
The present jute process machinery was largely designed and made in the UK prior to the 1980s, although jute spinning machinery is being manufactured in Kolkata since 1954.
A start has been made to develop more efficient and productive jute processing equipment in India. In the early 1990s some fund was given to jute machinery developers in India under a UNDP project.
The main thrust of mill modernisation for the industry during the last decade has been more in import of second hand equipment designed for jute or which can be modified for jute processing.
In the past carding machines, shuttle looms and winders were made to 1960s and 1970s UK designs in volume in India.
Much of the jute machinery operating in India and Bangladesh has been running for three shifts since it was originally built in the 1960s. Some machinery is even older, dating from the 1930s. Many individual components have been replaced many times.
In broad terms the existing jute conversion process from raw material to finished yarn or fabric requires about 40 man days per ton. This needs to be reduced to half, in other words to double labour productivity in the jute spinning process. It will have to double the productivity of the workforce and yet remain simple, efficient and practical to operate. Therefore, any new process technology has to surpass what exists by a generous margin to justify its investment cost. Up to now it has proven too difficult or too daunting a challenge for Indian machinery makers who are aware of the huge investment and effort needed to finance and complete new machinery designs and their commercial development.
To develop new jute machinery the manufacturer has to be confident that there are buyers and a market prepared to buy jute and jute products. Moreover, there is no certainty that the new machinery will not simply be copied and thus there would be no return on R&D investment.
A leading Jute machinery manufacturing company in India in expressing the present situation remarked that it is difficult for a company like theirs to develop the envisaged new spinning and weaving technology by itself without assistance from either national or international agencies. Jute Technology Mission launched by the Govt. of India in 2006 has a component of R&D for machine manufacturing but little progress has taken place in this area.
It is well known fact that significant reductions in manpower requirements and improvements in machine running efficiency can also be made through improved management and better maintenance. This strategy can only take the industry part of the way towards a doubling of its labour productivity. New equipment will have to work in tandem with the old as no mill can afford to change all its jute preparing or spinning machinery in one move. Modernisation is inevitably going to be a step by step affair with few leaders and many laggards.
Current Status - Existing Products and New Product Development
The specifications and standards of classic jute products have remained unchanged for decades. First comes sacking, which is used for making heavy bags for food grains and other commodities. Generally each sack weighs about one kilo net and is used to transport or store fifty kilos of produce. This item represents about half of the industry’s output. In the last decade, an
improved „food grade‟ sack has been developed, produced and marketed. This sack is physically very similar to the conventional one but does not contain any mineral oil. The use of „food grade‟ bags is specified by importers of Cocoa and Coffee beans.
Next is „Hessian,‟ which is a cloth made from finer yarns and which generally weighs half as much per square metre as sacking. Some Hessian is used to make finer sacks and bags and the rest is used in a wide variety of applications from wrapping plants or collecting grass cuttings to
furniture and as a support cloth for linoleum flooring. Hessian cloth represents a little less than
twenty percent of the total output of the world jute industry.
Yarn and twine are also major traditional products. The yarns are primarily exported to carpet weavers in Europe and the Middle East where they are woven into the back of the carpet to provide bulk and stability. Jute sold in the form of yarns for carpet or twines represents close to
twenty percent of total industrial output.
Wide Hessian cloth, known as carpet backing cloth is used on the back of tufted carpets. At one time it was used for both, primary and secondary backing but has been phased out of primary backing altogether. This application once consumed far larger volumes of jute than it does today when it accounts for less than two percent of output and a very minor part of the market.
The remaining ten percent or so of output is taken up by a wide range of small amounts of
specialist products. Among these one can mention „soil saver‟ an open weave construction using very heavy yarns used for geo-textiles which are laid on the ground. Jute woven matting or carpets are used as household floor coverings. Shopping bags are made from the better qualities of Hessian cloth. Furnishing fabrics, and rope soled shoes are also produced from jute and are finding consumer acceptance.
Considerable emphasis is now being placed by the jute industry on the production of non-traditional products. These are the so called diversified products.
The intention to move towards „diversified‟ products made wholly or partially from jute fibres has important consequences for the industry. The yarns used in such applications are generally finer in count and considerably higher in quality than those used in the „traditional‟ products. Significantly finer counts will mean a move to ring spinning and away from the conventional flyer spinning.
In short, the manufacture of diversified jute products require the use of the best grades of raw jute, more capital investment, higher „textile‟ levels of design and marketing skill, more capable and focused mill management, a degree of entrepreneurship above and beyond that usually found in the traditional industry, and on top of that, considerable R&D expenditure.
The real future of jute, however, lies in the area of technical textiles be it geotextiles or agro-textiles etc. Here too, one area of product development attracting attention is the use of jute fibres to reinforce plastic mouldings, either via non-woven mats or dispersed in plastic resin used for injection moulding, compression moulding etc. Small quantities of more or less processed jute fibres are now being used in these applications. However, the potential seems to be considerable and in ten years time these applications could provide a market for between one hundred to two hundred thousand tons of jute fibres.
The jute industry in Bangladesh is primarily export oriented. Raw fibre is exported along with jute manufactured goods. The range of products produced is similar to India but the structure of
the industry is different. On the one hand there is the Government owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) at present with about 20 mills, running the bulk of the operational looms
and the semi-privately owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) with a total of 78 member mills. On the other hand there is the Bangladesh Jute Spinners‟ Association (BJSA) with
over 50 spinning mills. This is an association of private sector yarn producers.
; Bangladesh provides over 90% of the world’s raw jute and allied fibre exports. Raw
jute exported each year ranges between 300,000 and over 400,000 tons.
; Jute fibre availability in Bangladesh is generally in the range 800,000 to 950,000 tons in
; During the early 1990s the combined output of the BJMC & BJMA was around 450,000
tons and the BJSA (Yarn mills) was less than 100,000 tons. During the last decade the
manufacture and export of yarn has reached about 250,000 to 300,000 tons which
largely substituted for the decline in the production and export of Sacking, Hessian, and
Carpet Backing Cloth.
; The amount of jute goods consumed internally in Bangladesh is in the range 100,000 tons
per year. There has been a slow build up of internal consumption over the years, in 1970
– 30,000 tons, 1980 – 40,000 tons, 1990 – 50,000 tons and in 2000 – 80,000 tons. It
would be reasonable to anticipate a little over 120,000 tons by the year 2010.
; Bangladesh yarn supplies account for about 75% of world imports. India supplies the
bulk of the remaining 25%. By a report of the world import market for jute, the jute yarn
import is expected to reach 400,000 tons in the coming years.
Structural improvement in the Jute Sector of Bangladesh
To improve the jute scenario and sustain development of the jute economy through extension of potential uses of jute and jute products by diversification the Jute Diversification Promotion
Centre (JDPC) has been set up in March 2002 by the Government of Bangladesh with the financial support of the Delegation of the European Commission in Bangladesh. As an active professional organization, the centre provides services to Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs), supports diversified jute producers in designing, marketing and infrastructure.
The jute textiles industry in India occupies an important place in the national economy. It is one of the major industries in the eastern region, particularly in West Bengal. It supports nearly 4 million farm families, besides providing direct employment to about 2.6 lakh industrial workers and livelihood to another 1.4 lakh people in the tertiary and allied activities. The production process in jute industry involves cultivation of raw jute, processing of jute fibres, spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing, finishing and marketing of both raw jute and its finished products.
The jute industry is labour intensive and therefore, its output ratio is high. The capacity utilization of the industry is around 75 percent. These apart, the contribution of jute textile industry to textiles exports is between INR.1100 -1200 crores per annum.
The Government announced a comprehensive National Jute Policy in April 2005, to develop a
strong and vibrant jute sector. The policy aims to revive the jute economy through supportive measures covering research and development, technology up-gradation, creation of infrastructure for storage and marketing of raw jute and product; and market development activities for jute and jute diversified products. The Government will ensure a reasonable market for jute products by continuing with the ongoing policy of reserving food grains and sugar packaging in jute bags. The Jute Technology Mission is a major component of the National Jute Policy.
The mandatory packaging of agricultural products in jute sacks and the Indian government sack purchasing policy has provided stability and continuity to the industry and to the millions of poor jute growers. This remains the rock to which the industry is anchored. A collapse in the internal Indian jute use of sacking would put huge pressures not only on growers but also on export markets.
Another important factor in the reduction of market possibilities for jute has been the growth in favour of bulk handling.
Sacks can also be made from kraft paper, widely used for animal feeds, and from blown film plastic which are commonly used for chemicals and fertiliser.
Pakistan imports most of its raw jute from Bangladesh and occasionally some from Myanmar.
Over the last few years production has been relatively stable at 50,000 to 60,000 tons a year of Sacking. 10,000 to 14,000 tons of Hessians and 10,000 to 14,000 tons of yarn and twine. The overall output of the Pakistani mills has remained for many years in the range 75,000 to 85,000 tons despite very keen competition from Polypropylene woven bags.
The vast bulk of production is sold to markets within Pakistan but some yarn and Hessian is exported to Afghanistan, Iran and Middle East markets. Pressure from competition in the domestic market is necessitating a change in orientation towards export markets.
The Chinese jute growing and manufacturing industry reached its zenith in 1985 when output was over a million tons. By 2000 FAO figures suggest a production of 126,000 tons with some recovery by 2003 to around 165,000 tons and the number of mills remaining in active production had fallen dramatically. The process machinery from several of these closed down mills was sold to Indian jute mills.
The reason for the collapse of the Chinese industry was the widespread use of locally woven sacks made from Polypropylene and High density polyethylene. Formal statistics on the number of woven plastic bags currently being made and used each year in China do not exist, but a conservative estimate would be about five billion bags or half a million tons of polymer. (Equivalent to five million tons of jute sacks).
Reliable information on the jute industry in China is not easily available but in recent years the jute and kenaf crop has continued to decline. In 1999 the harvest was 260,000 tons taken from 100,000 hectares and in 2003 according to FAO and the Chinese agricultural statistics, about 150,000 tons from 60,000 hectares.
The crop is predominantly grown in Hunan, Sichuan, Hubei, Henan, and Anhui provinces with an average yield of 2,500 kilos per hectare.
Since 2003 China appears to be importing about 30,000 or 40,000 tons a year of raw jute primarily from Bangladesh. China also imports a little jute yarn from Bangladesh (in addition to raw jute) but volumes are small, of the order of 1,000 tons a year. Together with a slight recovery in production since 2000, it appears that there is still some significant demand for jute sacks in China although nowhere near the levels of the mid 1980s.
OTHER COUNTRIES WITH JUTE INDUSTRIES
Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Brazil continue to grow and produce jute and kenaf products, as do Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia. With the exception of Thailand and Myanmar which also export some fibre, these countries consume most of their locally grown fibre internally. The aggregate amount of fibre processed in these countries can be estimated at between 100,000 tons and 120,000 tons a year. The end product profile is probably similar to that in China with sacking being the predominant item.
A few remaining countries retain a traditional jute goods manufacturing capability based wholly or partially on imported fibre; the most notable examples being the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Egypt and Cuba. These countries in aggregate use about 50,000 tons of fibre. End products are primarily sacks and bags for internal use.
As the world market for jute goods shrinks and consolidates, the experience of the past has been that the jute industries outside the main competitive producers in the Indian subcontinent drop out and close down. Jute manufacturing is nowhere consolidating into its heartlands of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Nepal and will continue to do so in future. Global Scenario
Today, jute can be defined as an eco-friendly natural fibre with versatile application prospects ranging from low value geo-textiles to high value carpet, apparel, composites, decorative, upholstery furnishings, fancy non-wovens for new products, decorative colour boards etc. Jute with its unique versatility rightfully deserves to be branded as the "fiber for the future".
In coming decades, a number of jute mills and mini-jute plants will be seen engaged in a big way
in production of jute and jute blended yarns, especially of finer accounts, through various routes of yarn manufacturing. The uses of jute are manifold although the traditional use remains in packing as sacking, hessian and carpet backing. These light weight yarns are to be used in value added textile applications like upholstery, furnishing, garments and bags etc are just a few example
Research & Development
Research and development by reputed organizations in India, have led to the strengthening of the natural attributes of jute. With technological support coupled with government's developmental efforts, the golden fiber, today, has entered into a varied range of applications generating employment, contributing to sustainable human development and leading to a cleaner and healthier environment.
Intensive R & D efforts through various research institutes mainly funded by Government of India have resulted in remarkable breakthrough in product diversification. Prominent Products are:
; Hydro carbon-free Jute Products for packing food grade products like cocoa, coffee,
shelled nuts etc.
; Major R & D works in DREF Spinning System.
; Production of jute blended yarns with jute as the major component-using Jute/Viscose,
Jute/Acrylic, and Jute/Cotton--jute content varying from 60 to 70% by weight. Such
yarns suitable for blankets, shawls, pullovers and as also thick dress materials.
; Production of fine blended yarns using Jute/Cotton, Jute/Silk, Jute/Wool etc. for apparel
use, where jute content is 30-40%.
Jute based fabrics used particularly in areas of furnishing, upholstery, carpets, blankets and other home textiles. R & D Institutions have developed Jute Reinforced Composites in the form of flexible, semi rigid sheet and rigid board to substitute wood, timber, and plywood. UNDP jute program has also facilitated diversification of jute sector by developing new technology, promotion of employment opportunities by encouraging new entrepreneurs to set up production units and development of indigenous machine manufacturing sector. Some of the on-going projects are use of jute for paper production; jute based needle-punched carpets, development of multi-component yarn from wool, jute and other fibers for floor coverings blankets and knitwear.
In order to enable jute-based products to make successful inroad into the textiles sector, jute has been largely experimented with. In view of challenge faced from cheaper prices of synthetic substitutes, more thrust has been given on diversification of jute products.
Major thrust areas of value-added diversified jute products include Jute Handlooms and Handicrafts, Non-woven and Industrial Application, Jute Rigid Packaging, Decorative products and Geo-Jute etc.
The traditional excellence of Indian craftsmen & artisans is reflected in a wide range of jute handicrafts of utility, decoration and novelty. A beautiful mosaic of Jute handicrafts comprising of carpets & floor coverings, wall coverings & window dressings, table mats & table-wares, swings, hammocks, office bags, table covers, table mats, pen and pencil stand, wall hangings & room decor, bedspreads & bedroom slippers, blankets & shawls, skirts & jackets, shopping & travel bags and a host of other home textile made ups are available in various outlets all over the country and has a ready market where demand outstrips supply.
The diversification efforts can already claim a number of commercial successes:
1. Major automobile manufacturers have started using jute fibre to replace glass fibre in
2. Some well-known furniture manufacturers in India and Bangladesh are using substantial
amounts of jute particle boards in their products.
3. Since last decade, a significant development has taken place in the spinning segment of
the jute industry. The mills in this sector are mostly private owned and the segment is still
flourishing, contributing substantially in the foreign exchange earning of the jute sector.
4. There are a good number of private sector SMEs who are producing and exporting a
variety of diversified jute products and the volume of export is continuously increasing. It
may be mentioned have that about 1.3 million people are employed in the jute diversified
5. Diversification efforts have made jute a substitute in areas as wide-ranging as automobile
manufacture, furniture, shopping bags and erosion control “geo-textile”. This humble,
once-scorned commodity has established itself as a fashionable, eco-friendly item – a
golden fibre – in niche markets. The new diversified products included fine yarn, up-
holstery and furnishing fabrics, aesthetically appealing shopping bags, fashion &
decorative accessories, jute-plastic composites, jute particle boards (or chipboards), jute
gardening products, non-woven products, home textiles, fashion textiles, handicrafts, gift
items, promotional materials, and hand-made paper. These are all commercially available.
New applications for jute, such as non-woven articles and special textiles, have emerged.
The Versatile Option
Rapid expansion of jute into a wide range of life style consumer products has been made possible due to the versatility of Jute. Spinning of high quality yarns and weaving of light-weight fine-textured fabrics of uniform structure in exotic colours and designs are made in both jute factories and hand loom sectors. With vastly improved bleaching, dyeing and finishing processes and by
blending jute with other natural or synthetic fibres, the finished jute products now ensure feel, lustre, abrasion resistance and aesthetic appeal.
Competitors and Trends in Major Markets
The jute industry is primarily based on the manufacture and supply of sacks and bags for agricultural produce. About 1.5 million tons worldwide out of a total output of 2.8 million tons or some 53% of production flow into this application. Of this world textile packaging market using jute India accounts for 1 million tons. What happens in the Indian market will crucially affect the rest of the world jute industry.
China encouraged substitution of jute packaging by cheaper oil based woven olefin plastics. The result was that the Chinese jute industry all but collapsed.
Underdeveloped economies with a weak transport infrastructure and large populations provide market opportunities for jute bags. Despite the „green‟ or ecology friendly arguments which
favour jute, and the fact that jute sacking will outwear and outlast woven plastic by on average 7/8 transport uses as compared to 3/4 for plastic these have not been factors which have had a significant impact in favour of jute. More important has been stack-ability where jute holds the advantage in terms of stability and ease of handling.
In contrast to the discouraging situation for jute in packaging the future use of jute yarns in the world carpet manufacturing industry has a growth profile. The problem is that growth in this area cannot remotely make up for the declining international market for jute in packaging.
Other diversified textile products which represent new applications for jute can be exploited, however to grow jute for pulp and paper seems unlikely to be economic except on a small and specialized scale such as is being done in Myanmar which exports paper to Japan.
A prospect which has the potential to use large volumes of jute fibre is in the replacement of glass fibres for plastics reinforcement. This opening exists both for compression moulding and for injection moulding. The replacement of even ten percent of the glass fibre used in plastic reinforcement would open up a potential market for several hundred thousand tons of fibre. The problem with this market is that it provides little or no value added for existing jute mills.
Jute geotextile is one of the most important products of jute which has wide potential applications in large scale & volume viz. soil erosion control, vegetation consolidation, agro-mulching, soil reinforcement, protection of riverbanks & embankments/dams, land reclamation, road pavement construction etc. The distinguishing features of jute like high moisture absorption & retention capacity, flexibility, drainage property, biodegradability etc. make jute geotextiles more advantageous and suitable. Jute geotextiles have the potential of being sustainable and environmentally friendly and sound.
The IJSG with the support of its members like India and Bangladesh is endeavouring to exploit the technical competence and commercial potential of JGT esp. in soil management and rural
road construction through a project likely to be funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC).
Conclusion/ Why Jute Industry has a Future?
; Though jute‟s contribution to exports as percentage of total export has declined sharply but
its contribution to agriculture and employment remains significant.
; The loss of market share by jute to synthetics has been attributed mainly to the price factor.
The relatively small size of the jute industry has also contributed to its weakness in the
markets. Inability to respond quickly to the market needs with consumer friendly
specifications and standards of new products have also effected the growth of this industry.
; Synthetic is dominated by huge multinational and national companies with substantial
amount of investment in R&D. It has been able to displace jute from some segments of
market by superior product specification and financial strength.
; Efforts by the international and bilateral donor agencies have also not been commensurate
with the size of the problem.
; Prospects and actions needed are as follows:
The developments in the traditional packaging segment in the context of new ILO norms and
consumer preference have already taken place, viz. development of food grade jute bags etc.
The continuing loss of traditional sacking market to synthetic substitutes needs to be arrested
and if possible reversed.
; Efforts to increase market share for jute products need to take into account the
volume of jute that can be consumed. Products like geotextiles, agro-textiles etc.
which have a large potential, have to receive focus both in terms of product
development and market promotion.
; The emerging environmental considerations and consumer preferences need to be
taken advantage of for promoting new and diversified products. Among these
products, jute and jute blended furnishing fabrics, natural fibre floor coverings,
ropes and chords, non-wovens, composites, pulp and paper, building and
insulation materials are key items.
; Increased production of good quality fibres is required for manufacturing of
diversified jute products. Moreover, for pulp & paper industry, more production
of jute is also necessary.
; The cost-competitiveness of jute products needs to be improved to compete with
cheaper synthetics products. The levels of technology at the processing and
manufacturing stage need to be improved considerably. Improvement in
productivity in the existing factories should also be a key area of intervention,