In order to boost the jute sector and to provide livelihood to jute growing farmers, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the extension for mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for the Jute Year 2019-20.
The government has retained the scope of mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987 as per last year. The decision of the Cabinet mandates that 100 percent of the foodgrains and 20 percent of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.
The decision to pack sugar and foodgrains in diversified jute bags will give an impetus to the diversification of the jute industry. Further, the decision also mandates that initially 10 percent of the indents of jute bags for packing foodgrains would be placed through reverse auction on the GeM portal. This will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery.
The approval will benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.
Nearly 3.7 lakh workers and several lakh farm families 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.
The jute industry is predominantly dependent on government sector which purchases jute bags of value of over Rs. 7,500 crore every year for packing foodgrains. This is done in order to sustain the core demand for the jute sector and to support the livelihood of the workers and farmers dependent on the sector.
In order to improve the productivity and quality of raw jute through a carefully designed intervention, called the Jute ICARE, the Central government has been supporting approximately two 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.