Jute is the world's second most used fibre after cotton.The India jute industry is an integral part of the Indian Textile Industry.Jute is a natural fibre and is grown in extensive parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh in India. It has been one of India's traditional industries but in the recent past, it had been witnessing continuous erosion partly because of competition from Bangladesh, once forming the best part of India's jute producing areas, and partly because of the onslaught of the synthetics. The jute industry was once India's largest foreign exchange earner. About 200,000 people are engaged in the industry besides four million cultivators. The country produces about 1.6 million tonnes a year of jute goods mainly in the form of hessian (fabrics), sacks, carpet backing and carpets. Of late, other fancy products like curtains and handbags are being produced. The industry is expected to maintain a crawling growth of 1% to 1.3% in the ensuring years.
Jute use is now increasingly becoming diverse. It can be used in furniture, curtains, upholstery, and dashboards and side panels in cars. The new applications identified for jute range from door frames to denim clothes. Jute carpets have been in vogue for a long time. Jute is being used in the production of cigarette paper. It also provides furbish for other paper producers. An auto multinational is reported to be using about 2.5 kg of jute in each car produced by it in India. Jute's bio-degradability is a compelling advantage.
In a bid to revive the industry, steps are taken in forming co-operatives among farmers, elimination of middlemen, formation of Jute Corporation of India and development of small entrepreneurs who can manufacture a wide range of items made from finer jute fabrics, such as carry bags, ladies hand bags, items for home furnishing. The small scale sector in the Indian jute industry has tried to move into value added items like shopping bags, upholstery and consumer durables.
Major lead players includeHoogly Mills, Hoogly Mills Projects, Birla Corp., Champadmy Inds., Ganges Mfg., Anglo India Jute, etc. In India, Bihar is the second largest producer of jute after West Bengal.Other world producers of jute are Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Nepal. Bangladesh is the biggest exporter.
There is a big scope globally for Indian jute shopping bags as an alternative to plastic bags. Amid increasing awareness against the use of plastic bags, especially in the European countries, Indian jute carry and shopping bags exporters shipped over
40 million bags in the fiscal ended March 2009 and the number is likely to cross 75 million in the next three years. India's export of jute bags in 2008-09 is estimated at Rs 200 crore while it was Rs 120 crore in the previous year. As per industry estimates, India had exported about 40 million jute bags mainly to Europe in 2008-09 and the number is likely to cross 75 million by 2011-12.
The future of jute industry is particularly bright. Due to its eco-friendly character, it might continue to maintain its presence. The new products can make their presence felt but in terms of volumes - or in terms of value.