Jute Textile Industry is one of the major and earliest Industries in the Eastern India, particularly in West Bengal. Jute for long was the greatest foreign exchange earner because of which it was called golden fiber.
Being a labour intensive sector, it has social relevance too. Jute supports around 40 Lakh farm families and provides direct employment to 2.6 Lakh Industrial Workers and 1.4 Lakh in the tertiary sector.
Traditionally jute was important in packaging industry and military purposes. India had the monopoly in jute production.
Jute export started declining from 1920 onwards as India lost the export market of axis countries after WW-I. Germany was able to develop synthetic fibre. With the decline in jute products demand, machinery used in jute industry were not developed elsewhere and India continued to use obsolete and old technology which are not cost effective and efficient. This industry suffered a great setback as a result of partition in partition around 80% jute output went to Bangladesh while more than 80% of jute mills remained in India.
Reasons for declining of jute industry:
• Export market lost due to World War-I, customer countries switched to synthetic fibre
• Jute cultivating area lost to Bangladesh due to partition
• Obsolete and old technology
• Competition from Bangladesh as they set up their mills later with better technology
However domestic demand in jute has increased:
• With Swadeshi movement in 1920s, an encouragement of domestic industries, many centres of northern plain developed sugar mill and jute bags were necessary in packaging.
But in recent years, jute continues to be a declining industry because:
• Jute is not waterproof so it is not convenient option for transporting sugar and cement.
• Railways banned the use of jute for transporting salt because salt corrodes railway wagons. Sugar, salt, cement were three largest consuming sectors of jute.
Although there are efforts to use jute blended textiles but the problem of colors not being fast on fibre and problem of jute shading dust must be addressed.
Jute however has the prospects in recovering its demand in packaging industry because of its biodegradable nature. Jute also has prospects in paper industry.
• National Jute Board for the development of cultivation, manufacture and marketing of jute and jute products and for matters connected.
• Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) for facilitating investment in modernization of textile jute industries.
Jute is pure fiber.(i.e. weight of raw material = weight of end product). Therefore following Weber’s industrial location model, jute industry need not be set up near jute cultivating region e.g. Denude (UK) was an important jute industry centre and was dependent on jute import from South Asia.
Jute however requires lot of fresh free flowing water for retting process. This explains industry set ups near or along the rivers.
Jute industry is very labour intensive so it requires cheap labour in vicinity of industry.
The Hoogly river region has all the factors in support of jute:
• Lower Ganga Plain have traditionally jute growing regions
• Proximity to Calcutta port
• Cheap labour from Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Undivided Bengal
• Early arrival of British in Calcutta, humid climate for spinning and weaving, coal from Raniganj, Banking and finance facilities available
Important jute centre along Hoogly: Rishra, Howrah, Budge-Budge, Titagarh, Serampur, Belur
Trend in shift of Jute Industry:
• The Howrah belt developed dis-economies of scale because of overcrowding & labour problem so jute industry expanded and shifted towards Howrah.
• First shift along the Ganga river because northern plain traditionally being sugar belt of India.
• Later shift was towards Godawari delta & along Godawari river. Lower Godawari also developed paper industry and uses mixture of sabai grass and jute as raw material for paper.
• Advantage of Calcutta port was lost because India lost jute export market.
Some Appreciation Please!