Jute growers across the country are facing serious setbacks due to the low prices offered by wholesalers and millers.
Our correspondents from Faridpur, Kushtia, Kurigram, Sirajgonj, Manikganj, and Pabna have reported that the farmers are now selling their quality golden fiver between Tk 2000 and Tk 2500 per maund against the previous year’s price of Tk 3000 and Tk 4000.
A farmer at Kurigram told the Business Mirror correspondent that he sold his 5 maunds of raw jute at a price of Tk 1800 per maund, which is lower than the production cost.
“It takes about Tk 2000 to produce a maund of jute as the labor cost is too high in this region,” Abdul Baset, a farmer at Kurigram Sadar, told
Harvesting of jute, one of the major cash crops, is going on in full swing in Bangladesh’s markets. Parts of the district are now abuzz with buyers and sellers of freshly harvested “golden fiber.”
Jute farmers are worried that the price of raw jute will continue to decline despite a good harvest this year, and many of them are even thinking of stopping cultivation of the crop forever next season.
Buyers, however, admitted that the decline in prices was due to lower demand for jute and jute products abroad due to the Ukraine-Russia war.
Abul Kalam, a farmer from Bhashanchar, said: “This year cultivation expenses have gone higher. On the other hand, the market price is considerably lower. Dishonest traders are stockpiling jute through syndicates.”
A Samad, a trader from Krishnapur Bazar, said: “Currently, we are purchasing jute from farmers at Tk22,00 to Tk23,00 per maund. The jute prices have dropped due to excessive production.
Md Noor Islam, a farmer who came to the market from Kadamtala village of Kurigram Sadar, said, “Cultivating jute on one bigha of land costs Tk 14,000 to Tk 15,000, including fertilizer, water, pesticides, and labor costs. I get 8–10 maunds of jute from one bigha of land. There will be no profit if I sell the produce at the current price. What is the benefit of cultivating jute with so much difficulty, then?”
Latest data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) show export earnings of jute and jute goods fell by 19 percent to $912 million in FY23, compared to $1.12 billion recorded in FY22.
Under this category, export earnings of jute yarn and twine have declined the most by 28.64 percent to about $498 million in FY23. But in FY22, the amount was around $698 million.
Export income from jute sacks and bags rose by almost 8 percent to $109 million in FY23, compared to the previous year. However, raw jute export income decreased by 5.5 percent to $204 million in FY23.
Exporters say buyers are now in a crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Besides, as consumers’ income in export destination countries has decreased, so has the demand for jute and jute goods. This is why export earnings from jute fell in the last financial year.
Bangladesh produces roughly 80 lakh bales of raw jute annually, with jute millers and spinners processing 80 percent of it to make sacks, bags, yarn, and twine mainly for export.
The rest is used by households and for other purposes, according to the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association and the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association.
Farmers grew 84 lakh bales of raw jute on 7.27 lakh hectares in fiscal 2021–22, up 9 percent year-on-year. Traders exported 8 lakh bales of raw jute that year, according to data from the Department of Jute.