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Plan to develop N-E jute sector

The Centre has chalked out a multi-pronged strategy to boost the jute sector in the Northeast.

A source said the working group on jute constituted by th e Planning Commission had chalked out a separate policy for the Northeast, in which it had included identification of prominent jute growing areas in the region, establishment of jute parks integrated with jute growing areas, setting up of commercially viable jute-ramie/jute-silk blending units and setting up of diversified jute products training centres.

In 2010-11, the jute industry in the country produced goods worth Rs 7,500 crore and had export earnings of nearly Rs 1,350 crore.

“It is a good initiative as there is a big scope for jute, especially in Assam, but there are problems,” the source said.

The report said Assam was the main producer of ramie fibre in the country and additionally, the state produced substantial amounts of jute along with plenty of bamboo. The two other ramie-producing states in the region are Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

“In this context, one on-going Jute Technology Mission (JTM) project on ramie fibre processing and diversified products at Indian Jute Industries’ Research Association (IJIRA) is aimed at upgrade of economic status of farmers and decentralised sectors in the region. Research and development activities on composites from jute and bamboo strips (woven or braided) are currently in progress at IJIRA, Calcutta, under a JTM project. To this end, a mini-pilot plant consisting of related machinery for processing jute and ramie may be installed at a suitable location in the region,” the report said.

The working group has also recommended the setting up of at least two vocational training centres for diversified jute products in the region.

Though Assam is the second highest producer of jute in the country after Bengal, more than half of Assam’s jute sector is in the hands of middlemen. Assam’s production is 7 lakh bales (One bale is 180kg).

On modernisation and upgrade of technology in jute mills, the upper limit of the subsidy has been raised to Rs 350 lakh per mill for the existing units and Rs 400 lakh per mill in states of the Northeast and for setting up new units.

On knowledge management, the panel has given importance to the Northeast and has called for development of a location-based knowledge advisory system which is a broadcast network for selectively transmitting individualised knowledge output signals to remote communication devices.

It has also suggested setting up of interactive software-based systems intended to help decision-makers to compile useful information from combination of raw data, documents, personal knowledge, or business models to identify and solve problems and make decisions.