The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar in the jute material for the Jute Year 2017-18.
The decision, the Committee claimed, would sustain the core demand for the jute sector and support the livelihood of the workers and farmers dependent on the sector.
The CCEA has extended the mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987. The approval mandates that 90 percent of the food grains and 20 percent of the sugar products shall be mandatorily packed in jute bags.
The decision also mandates, in the first instance, the entire requirement for packing of foodgrains would be placed in jute bags thus, making a provision for 100 percent packing of food grains in jute bags subject to the ability of the jute industry to meet the requirement.
The decision is expected to benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Tripura.
Jute industry is predominantly dependent on Government sector which purchases jute products more than Rs. 5,500 crore every year. Considering that nearly 3.7 lakh workers and approximately 40 lakh farmers are dependent for their livelihood on the jute sectors, the government has been making concerted efforts for the development of jute sector; increasing the quality and productivity of raw jute, diversification of jute sector and also boosting and sustaining demand for jute products.
Many measures were taken to improve the condition of the jute industry
With a view to boosting demand in the jute sector, the Government of India imposed Definitive Anti Dumping Duty on the import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from January 5, 2017. As a result of these measures, 13 twine mills in Andhra Pradesh had resumed operation, benefitting 20000 workers. Further, the imposition of Definitive Anti Dumping Duty has provided scope for an additional demand of 2 lakh MT of jute goods in the domestic market for the Indian jute industry.
In order to improve the productivity and quality of raw jute through a carefully designed intervention, called the Jute ICARE, the Government has been supporting close to one lakh jute farmers by disseminating improved agronomic practices such as line sowing using seed drills, weed management by using wheel-hoeing and nail-weeders, distribution of quality certified seeds and also providing microbial assisted retting.
These interventions have resulted in enhancing the quality and productivity of raw jute and increasing income of jute farmers by Rs. 10,000 per hectare.
In order to support jute farmers, Jute Corporation of India (JCI) was given a grant of Rs. 204 crore for four years starting from 2014-15 to enable JCI to conduct MSP operations and ensure price stabilisation in the jute sector.
Further, to promote transparency in the sector, Jute SMART, an e-govt initiative was launched in December 2016, providing an integrated platform for procurement of B-Twill sacking by Government agencies. Further, the JCI is transferring 100 percent funds to jute farmers online on the jute procurement under MSP and commercial operations.
On a related note, the Jute Year 2017-18 period is from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.