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Headache for jute

Calcutta, Jan. 20: Orders for jute bags to pack the winter harvest are far short of initial projections, with government food procurement agencies reducing their requirements.

The Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) today said that the prospects of the industry in the coming three months — February, March and April — when jute bags would be produced for packaging of procured Rabi (winter) crops had “never been as bad”.

“Against the jute industry’s capacity of 3 lakh bales monthly, the total projected requirement by the government in the three months is only 1.91 lakh bales,” IJMA today said in a statement.

The association pointed to the closure of mills and drastic production cuts because of a demand gap. “Already 50,000 workers are jobless and if the situation continues, there would be block closure of jute mills,” IJMA said.

A city-based mill owner told The Telegraph that several mills were on the verge of closure because of labour unrest and the lack of demand. A cut in government procurement is likely to worsen the situation further.

An estimated demand of jute bags is done before each Kharif and Rabi season by a committee comprising officials of the ministries of textile, food and public distribution, the jute commissioner, representatives of various states and of IJMA.

Total requirement is likely to be only 23 lakh bales in this fiscal against 32 lakh bales projected in a standing advisory committee meeting by the jute commissioner.

“This is inspite of a bumper jute crop, installed sacking capacity of more than 45 lakh bales and the ability of the industry to deliver the required bags within a short period,” the association said.

 
 
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