The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in January 2018, extended the requirement of the mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar products in jute bags for the year ending June 2018. The mandatory packaging norms have been extended under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987. The norms make it compulsory to pack 90 per cent of food grains and 20 per cent sugar products in jute bags. The compulsion is, however, subject to the ability of the jute industry to meet the demand/requirement. According to an official statement, the decision also mandates, in the first instance, the entire requirement for packing of foodgrains in jute bags thus, making a provision for 100 per cent packing of foodgrains in jute bags subject to the ability of the jute industry to meet the requirement.
The move comes in the wake of the fact that the jute industry is predominantly dependent on the government for sustaining itself. Government purchases jute products worth more than Rs 5,500 crore every year. There are nearly 3.7 lakh workers and about 40 lakh farmers whose source of livelihood is the jute sector. Due to this, government has been taking concerted measures for the development of the jute sector. For instance, the government has imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from January 5, 2017. The measure proved helpful for creating additional demand of 2 lakh MT of jute goods in the domestic market for the Indian jute industry.
To underline the importance of diversification of the jute industry, emphasis is on diversification by incentivising use of jute geo-textiles and promoting jute as eco-friendly fibre both in domestic and global markets.
The decision will help sustain the core demand for the jute sector and support the livelihood of the workers and farmers dependent on the sector in eastern and north-eastern regions of the country particularly in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.