Indian Jute Industry
Importance of the Jute Industry:
India ranks first in the world in the cultivation and manufacture of jute – having maximum number of jute looms, maximum number of jute products produced, maximum export of jute products etc.
Jute is used for the production of hessian, gunny bags, ropes, textiles, carpets, tarpaulin, bags, paper etc. Among fibres, jute is the cheapest so it is widely used and its importance is also very high. Similar to the cotton textile industry, the jute industry earns a lot of valuable foreign exchange and lakhs of people are dependent on it for their livelihood. Millions of people earn from jute farming and work in jute factories, trade etc.
Growth And Development:
The first jute mill was set up at Rishra in 1859, jointly, by an Englishman called George Auckland and a Bengali called Bishambar Sen. Before, jute yarn, hessian, gunny bags etc. were produced by spindles in cottage industries. After 1859, the jute industry started developing, especially after the two World Wars. After Independence, due to East Pakistan being separated from India, the jute industry was adversely affected, as the jute growing areas had gone to Bangladesh (before called East Pakistan). Within a few years this problem was overcome by increasing the production in West Bengal, Assam etc. So shortage of raw jute was removed.
Raw material of the jute industry:
The main raw material of the jute industry is the raw jute. Other raw materials are chemicals, wax, plenty of water etc.
Distribution of the jute mills:
At present, there are many jute mills operating in India and many have closed down. West Bengal has the largest number of jute mills, followed by Assam, Orissa and other states, which together.
1. Jute mills in West Bengal: West Bengal has around 81% of the operating jute mills of India. These mills lay on either bank of the Hugli River, between Kalyani – Bansberia in the North to Budge Badge -Uluberia in the south. The concentration of so many jute mills in such a small area is called the Index of Concentration of the jute industry.
The development of one type of industry in a definite area and in large numbers together with the mills being very close to each other is called the concentration of that particular industry. The concentration of so many jute mills on either side of a river for 100 km in length and 3 km in width is not seen in any other part of the world.
Many reasons have lead to the concentration of the jute industry along the river Hugli. They are:
Availability of raw jute – 75% of the total jute production of India is cultivated in West Bengal and Assam. The jute is transported cheaply via the river Hugli.
Historical reasons – Western technical know-how entered through this region. The English were responsible for setting up jute mills in the region.
Nearness to coal mines – Energy required for the jute mills was provided by coal brought via railways or roadways, easily from the Ranigunj coalfields only 190 km away. Later cheap electricity was available.
Kolkata Port Trust – Its nearness helped the development of the jute industry as jute products were exported and machines from abroad were imported.
River Hugli – The river supplied the water required in the jute mills. The jute mills were located on either side of the river so they were well connected to jute producing areas and the Kolkata Port via the river.
Developed communication system – The area is well connected to the rest of India via railway, waterways and roadways. This is necessary for the transport of the finished jute products and raw jute as raw material.
Cheap labor – The cheap labor available from West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa have helped to develop this industry. In later years, Kolkata became the main centre of trade and banking business, so the required capital for the industry was not difficult to obtain.
These benefits have helped to set up the jute industry in the region. The main centers of the industry are – Birlapur, Uluberia, Budge Budge, Howrah, Bally, Rishra, Agarpara, Naihati, Baidyabati, Bhadreswar, Shrirampur, Halisahar, Bansberia, Jagaddal, Shyamnagar, Kamarhati etc.
2. Jute mills at other places in India: The jute mills located outside West Bengal includes –
- Andhra Pradesh & Telangana – one each at Chittabasal in Visakhapatnam, Nellimarla, Illuru near Vijayawada and another at Guntur;
- Bihar – one at Muktapur near Samastipur and two at Katiar;
- Uttar Pradesh – two at Kanpur and one at Sajanyat;
- Assam – Shilghat in Nagaon district;
- Tripura – at Arundhatinagar near Agartala;
- Orissa – at Dhanmandol in Cuttack district;
- Chhattisgarh – Raigarh. Generally it can be said that the mills are located in these places due to local demand, local raw material, cheap labor etc.
Production and Export:
Just after independence, there was a fall in the production of jute goods due to the lack of raw material as most jute producing areas were in Bangladesh. Within a few years jute cultivation increased in the country so its production increased also. In 1993-94, 14.31 lakh tons of jute goods were produced and Rs. 366 crores was earned through export. In 1999-2000, India produced 15.91 lakhs tones of jute goods and Rs. 514 crores of jute goods were exported. The main countries India exports jute products to are :
j) Some countries of Africa
Problems in the Jute Industry:
Just after independence, India overcame the shortage of raw jute by widely cultivating jute in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. New problems started in the Jute Industry from the middle of the seventies. They are:
a) Cloth bags, paper bags, polythene, plastics etc., varieties of allied fibres were replacing jute bags so the market for jute products was shrinking. These allied fibres are costlier than jute so jute still has some prospect.
b) India faces stiff competition from Bangladesh and Thailand in the International Market. Bangladesh produces good quality jute products at cheaper rates for they have new jute mills.
c) Most Indian jute mills were set up during the British period, 100 – 125 years before. It is not possible to produce high quality products with these old machines.
d) For exporting jute products, high export duty has to be paid to the government, which increases the price of jute product.
e) Labor unrest and faulty administration system are affecting the industry.
f) Most owners of jute mills have greatly neglected their mills which have adversely affected the jute industry. This has led to the closure of some jute mills in the last few years. Therefore, India and West Bengal too have lost their fame in the jute industry.
Some, steps must be taken to solve these problems of the jute industry.
- High yielding jute must be cultivated to double the production per hectare.
- New machines must be used in the Jute Mill for modernization and cheap production of good products.
- Export duty must be withdrawn.
- The jute industry has an important role in the economics of India as it earns valuable foreign exchange. Today, we see many jute mills are closing down one after another. To revive this important industry, the Government must nationalize and rejuvenate it.
- It should be widely advertised that compared to other fibres, jute products are cheaper and long lasting.
Some steps have been taken to overcome some of the problems of the jute industry. They are:
- To improve the quality of jute goods improved varieties of jute are being cultivated, implemented by “The Jute Development Board”.
- New machines have been set up to modernize the jute mills with the help of government loan.
- Export duty has been decreased to increase the export of jute products and jute “Export Promotion Committee” has been set up.
- To increase the demand and market for jute and jute-allied products research has been initiated so that besides the traditional jute bags, ropes, gunny bags etc. new products are made e.g. – jute textile, paper, carpet, decorative items etc.
- To increase the domestic use of jute products, thereby increasing the domestic market of jute products, the govt. has started to make it mandatory for the cement and other industries to use gunny bags.
In this way government policy and environment conscious citizens may cause an increase in the demand for jute products. Thereby the expanding market of the jute industry will save it from glut.
By Amit Agarwal