President Pranab Mukherjee today called for making serious attempts to give golden fibre jute an image makeover from a cheap packaging material to value added product suitable for diversified end-uses.
Inaugurating an international conference on natural fibres here, Mukherjee expressed concern over lack of growth- orietation in jute industry in the last few decades.
"Industrial production of jute goods comprises mainly packaging materials, sacking and hessian, which account for 82 per cent of the total production...In the face of stiff competition from substitutes, mainly sythetics, it has gradually lost its prime position as a packaging material," he said the conference.
The President said a host of reasons have led to the disquieting trends in the industry which include over- dependence on government's order for mandatory use of sacking bags, stagnant productivity, absence of modernisation and upgradation among others.
Mukherjee said jute is gradually making inroads in some areas of technical textiles including geo textiles and composites and jute has to find its rightful place in the growing field. "The global concern for environment and increasing consumer preference for bio-degradable natural fibre products have opened a window of opportunity for enhanced use of jute," he said.
Mukherjee said steps must be take to cut down the cost of production for which improved machinery has to be developed and measures for energy and waste management adopted. "To cope with the competition from other packaging materials like lighter synthetic bags, greater diversification is necessary to manufacture jute bags of varied types.
For instance, production and promotion of hydrocarbon-free jute bags could cater to a large domestic market, besides meeting its export demand," he said. The President said he envisages the use of jute in manufacturing composite material, suitable for specific applications in automobiles and construction, to prove benefit in terms of cost-performance ratio.