Jute is a natural long, soft and shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong thread. It is the second only to cotton in terms of cultivation and usage. For its golden and silky shine, jute is known as the "Golden Fibre of Bangladesh." It is produced from jute plants. To Europe, jute cloth is known as "Hessian," while "Burlap" in North America.
Jute is the pride of Bangladesh and a valuable item in the export basket. It is one of the main cash crops of Bangladesh that generates foreign income and helps develop the country's socio-economic infrastructures.
Over 85 per cent of the world's jute is cultivated in the Ganges Delta. Being part of it, Bangladesh became the world's largest producer of raw jute. More than 90 per cent of the world's raw jute is being exported from Bangladesh. On the other hand, India is the world's largest jute products producer as well as consumer. Apart from Bangladesh and India, China, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Sudan and Egypt are the world's other jute producing nations.
In the ancient times, jute was cultivated in Africa and Asia. Asian Bengalis were known as the "Users of Jute Ropes and Twines" for their household and other purposes. Chinese paper makers would use jute plant as an element alongside hemp, silk and cotton for making papers.
In the medieval period, it is known from Ain-e-Akbari written by Abul Fazal in 1590, the historian of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great (1542-1605), the poor villagers of India used to wear clothes which were made of jute.
Amartya Sen, the native of Bangladesh and the citizen and Nobel laureate in economics of India, said: "In the eighteenth century, Adam Smith (1723-1790), the famous Scottish economist, held Bengal as one of the richest heritages of the world. As a result, the Portuguese, Dutch, French, English and the Danish alongside many other Europeans used to come to Bengal for production, trade and business purposes."
In that era, Mymensingh was known for jute growing and its business in the world. The Europeans and the Englishmen who were involved with the jute business in Mymensingh used to play football with the Mymensingh Mohammedan Sporting Club. At that time European sporting clubs existed in Mymensingh except only the local Mohammedan Sporting Club which was established in 1898.
Jute has been an integral part of culture of Bangladesh along with the whole Bengal and Indian sub-continent for centuries. It is such a kind of economic resource that has been given to mankind by nature. Unfortunately, at the end of 1970, the U.S. and the other countries introduced the plastic shopping bags that harmed jute businesses around the globe. As a result, many jute mills of Bangladesh were shut down, people were unemployed and farmers switched from jute to more profitable rice cultivation.
Today's world is facing the environmental pollution which is one of the most serious problems of the century. Air, water and soil all are harmed by pollution and they need to be healed for the survival of all living beings. Air pollution causes harm to human health, plants and even weather. Water pollution limits fresh drinking water and claims human, wild and marine lives. Soil pollution reduces the amount of land available for growing food. Environmental pollution also brings ugliness to our natural beauty.
Due to cheap, lightweight, functional, hygienic means of carrying food and other goods, plastic bags have been so popular to both retailers and consumers in the world of today that it seems we are unable to stop the use of plastic bags despite those being harmful to our environment. Imagine that the US alone uses a hundred billion plastic bags every year and the number of the rest of the world would be staggering!
Plastic bags' pollution is a threat to our ecosystems, because they are responsible for causing soil, water and air pollution.
Plastic manufacturing uses valuable mineral resources and has a negative impact on carbon emission.
Plastics are non-biodegradable and contain petroleum products. When they are burned, they infuse toxic fume into the air and cause air pollution.
Billions of plastic bags are used once and thrown away just to litter the landscape and clog drains, sewers, seas, rivers, waterways, parks, beaches, and streets, and also cause global warming.
So, plastic harms the earth.
On the other hand, jute bags are eco-friendly because jute is totally biodegradable. When burned, jute generates no toxic fume.
Jute is a fast growing crop with a much higher carbon dioxide assimilation rate than trees. One hectare of jute plants consumes over 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide which are several times higher than trees.
Jute is a vegetable fibre composed of cellulose which is the main building material of all plants and totally decomposes putting valuable nutrients back into soil. Jute plants increase soil fertility when grown in rotation with other food crops while being a barrier to disease and pests. That is why the cultivation of jute in combination with other corps can restore soil fertility, because jute adds vital nitrogen and organic matters to the soil. Geotextile, a diversified jute product, is used for soil-erosion control.
Besides, jute is a rain-fed natural organic crop which is grown without the need of chemicals.
So, jute bags and other jute products are strong, trendy and reusable and save the earth.
Purchasing jute products mean to help our biosphere. Western consumers have realised the importance of echo-friendly and biodegradable jute bags and other jute products, the demand for which is soaring day by day with the level of environmental awareness rising both in developed and developing countries. As a result, jute business is booming now. It is good news for Bangladesh that the jute business is again flourishing in the world.
The Bangladesh government can take overall development programmes on jute bags and other jute products. The government must ensure higher profits from jute. The fair price of jute will help farmers grow more jute in Bangladesh.
The demand in the global denim market is very high. The scientists of Bangladesh are working on a smart project to blend jute fabric with cotton to produce denim fabric which can bring down the demand for cotton in the country. If Bangladesh can produce denim fabric economically and commercially, it would have a huge impact on the country's economy. Sophisticated machines as well as hardware are required to fulfill Bangladesh's denim dream. The Bangladesh government can take initiatives through the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) to introduce the business of denim fabric in the country and the world.