The current wave of environmentalism is causing an increased demand for natural jute bags as more people realise the eco advantages of the golden fibre. According to Kawser Khan, Bangladesh exported 600,000 jute bags in 2008, a 600% increase in 2 years. Jute experts point out that the increased demand is due to the International Year of Natural Fibres plus global concern about plastic bag pollution. The UK based retail chain Tesco is said to require 1 million natural fibre bags every month.
Meanwhile, in India, the government has decided to increase the 2009-10 jute price by 10% in an effort to stimulate investment in jute cultivation. One of the problems of the jute industry is the poor financial returns available to jute farmers and since the entire jute industry is based on low tech labour intensive farming techniques in poor communities few would argue with increased returns for these communities. This assumes of course that the farmers get the full benefit of the increased price.
To improve the standard of living of poor farming families and benefit the environment at the same time are worthy goals indeed!