Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jute fund to bring no cheer for farmers

Jute fund to bring no cheer for farmers

News Report The government has decided to develop a special fund of Taka ten billion to assist the country's ailing jute sector. Farmers will get loan from this fund styled Jute Sector Development Fund (JSDF), at a low interest rate of 5.0 per cent. A committee headed by Mohammad Mahmudul Hasan, Chairman, Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), has been formed for preparing a policy on operation of this fund. The committee, according to the source, prepared a draft policy, which is now under scrutiny of the Ministry of Jute and Textiles. The Ministry source said that the draft policy, if accepted, would frustrate the main objective of the jute sector development. It has been suggested in the draft policy that ownership of land would be an important pre-requisite for getting benefit from the JSDF. But most of jute growers are landless farmers. They cultivate jute under share-cropping system. Another system is also in place. Jute growers take land on annual lease and cultivate varieties of crops including jute. Neither share-croppers nor leaseholders will be eligible to get loan from JSDF, if the committee's suggestions are accepted without any modification, the source said. An official of the Jute and Textiles ministry said that land would be used as collateral to ensure recovery of loan. This is why, the precondition of land ownership to get benefit from the JSDF has been suggested. He, however, agrees that most of the land owners do not engage themselves in cultivation process. The official, however, said that the ministry is working to devise an alternative way, so that the share-croppers or leaseholding farmers can reap benefit of the JSDF. Exporters of readymade garments (RMG), knitwear, textiles, plastic, leather and ceramic products get special government stimulus. But the jute sector is excluded from such incentive. Considering the importance of jute sector in the national economy the idea of JSDF has been mooted. In the last fiscal (2017-18), jute sector contributed $1b to export earning. Around two lakh people work at 176 public and private mills, which process two-thirds of the country's annual jute production of 1.4 million tonnes, according to the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association. Of the total production 38 thousand tonnes are exported while the rest is used to meet domestic demand.

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