Kolkata, Aug 1 IANS | 3 months ago

Calling for a concerted effort by all stakeholders to develop the jute sector, President Pranab Mukherjee Friday said it should be the preferred choice as a packaging material for food grains and sugar. However, he also underscored the need for steps to cut down its cost of production

"Jute is compatible with the requirements of a clean environment. It is pertinent that it continues to be the preferred choice as a packaging material for food grains and sugar.

"However, steps are required to be taken to cut down its cost of production. For this, improved machinery has to be developed and measures for energy and waste management adopted," Mukherjee said at an official programme here.

Inaugurating the international conference on natural fibres, marking the end of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology (NIR-JAFT), the president said manufacturing and quality assurance processes have to be up-graded to restore the old glory of the "golden fibre".

"To cope with competition from other packaging materials like lighter synthetic bags, greater diversification is necessary to manufacture jute bags of varied types. For instance, production and promotion of hydrocarbon-free jute bag could cater to a large domestic market, besides meeting its export demand," he suggested.

Refering to useful product innovations in the manufacture of jute-based shopping bags, footwear and handicrafts for the common man, Mukherjee said he would look forward to the development of more such jute-diversified products.

"I am confident that such products will find a ready market in India and abroad. A large manufacturing base for these items can be established in the Eastern region as well as in other parts of the country. It will help generate employment, particularly in rural areas."

The president also envisaged the use of jute in manufacturing composite materials, suitable for specific applications in automobiles and construction.

"What is required is the judicious development of appropriate process technologies. This will pave the way for economic benefits to accrue to farmers and small entrepreneurs dealing with these fibres.

"There is need for sharing of knowledge and experience about different natural fibres and their products."

The president said in a changing world economic and environmental scenario, there is a need to evaluate the role of jute and allied fibres.

"A concerted effort by all stakeholders is necessary to develop the jute sector," he said.

The president said "serious attempts" should be made to transform the image of jute objects from cheap packaging material to value-added products suitable for diversified end-uses.

"The global concern for environment and increasing consumer preference for bio-degradable natural fibre products have opened a window of opportunity for enhanced use of jute. To realise this potential, technical capabilities have to be boosted through greater investment, technological up-gradation, market promotion and facilitatory government role."

The president said jute agriculture in general and post-harvest technology in particular needs special attention in terms of technology support and extension activities.

(Posted on 02-08-2014)

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