Potentials of Jute in Sustainable Family Farming

Potentials of Jute in Sustainable Family Farming


Author: Dr Dilip Kumar Kundu - CRIJAF | Achiever
S. No.: IJMA/FOI/27042021/1044/JS-40
Date: 27-04-2021 | Time: 10:44 am
All Stories

About the Author

: Dr Dilip Kumar Kundu is a scientist at the ICAR-CRIJAF in Barrackpore, West Bengal. At the Indian Council of Agricultural Research - Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibers, Dr Kundu is one of India's finest who work tirelessly for this organisation and for India's agriculture.

Introduction

: Nearly 75% of jute goods are used as packaging materials, hessian and sacks. The other products are carpet yarn, cordage, felts, padding, twine, ropes, decorative fabrics, and miscellaneous items for industrial use.

Potentials of Jute in Sustainable Family Farming for Livelihood Security in India and Recent Developments in Jute Production Technologies

Dr. Dilip Kumar Kundu

Head, Division of Crop Production
ICAR-Central Research Institute for Jute & Allied Fibers
Barrackpore, Kolkata- 700120, India
ABSTRACT
Jute, the golden fiber of India, although occupies only 0.42% of gross cropped area, supports more than 40 lakh farm families and generates employment to the tune of 100 lakh man days in a season in the rural sector. Moreover, about 2.5 lakh industrial workers and 5 lakh traders get employment in jute sector. Thus raw jute farming, industry and trade provide livelihood support to about 50 lakh people of the country. India today earns about Rs 1800 crores per annum through export of jute goods. Jute diversified products play a key role in the empowerment of rural women. Jute crop can sequester as high as 15 tonnes of CO2 from atmosphere in 100 days. In the era of environmental concern, in the near future the farm income through carbon trading may exceed the profit obtained from the sale of fibers. Leaf fall from jute crop during a season is about 1500 kg per ha (dry weight basis) which contributes about 29 kg N, 15 kg P, 24 kg K along with 21 kg Ca and 15 kg Mg to the soil. Fallen leaves could be used as a source of organic manures. In India, jute stick alone can provide 29 GJ of energy per year which may be used to produce bio-fuel. Jute leaf, rich in antioxidant content, is now globally recognized as a high-value vegetable and farmers can make additional income through its export. However due to stiff competition from cheaper synthetic fibers, changing climatic conditions, erratic nature of rainfall over space, time and quantity, shortage of farm labour, non-availability of quality seeds and other inputs, shrinking availability of fresh water for retting and competing alternate crops area under jute cultivation is on decline in the country since 2011-12. During the last five years, area under jute cultivation declined from 9.05 lakh ha to 8.08 lakh ha. CRIJAF has been striving hard since its inception to improve the livelihood of five million people of India who are directly or indirectly involved in jute farming. CRIJAF has developed a number of short-duration, high-yielding, pre-mature flowering resistant jute varieties with finer fiber quality which can fit well in multiple cropping system; taken initiatives to produce quality seeds of newly released jute varieties and distribute them under the brand name ‘CRIJAF Seed’; developed manually operated small farm machines like ‘CRIJAF Multi Row Seed Drill’ for line sowing of seeds, ‘CRIJAF Nail Weeder’ for mechanical control of weeds, ‘CRIJAF Herbicide Brush’ for application of non-selective herbicides to control weeds; developed soil test and target yield based recommendations for balanced and efficient use of fertilizers in jute in alluvial soil, developed technologies for successfully growing jute under deficit and excess rainfall conditions, for retting jute with low volume of water, and improved retting of jute in stagnant water using talc based microbial formulation ‘CRIJAF Sona’. Adoption of these technologies have increased yield and quality of jute fiber, reduced cost of cultivation and thereby increased income of the family farms in eastern India. The National Jute Board, Govt of India has recently launched the ‘Jute-ICARE’ programme to promote selected CRIJAF technologies in important jute growing regions of the country.
Jute, the golden fiber of India, occupies only 0.42% of gross cropped area but supports more than 40 lakh farm families and generates employment of about 100 lakh man days in a season in the rural area (Kundu et al. 2011). Additionally about 2.5 lakh industrial workers and 5 lakh traders get employment in jute sector. Thus jute farming, industry and trade provide livelihood support to about 50 lakh people of the country. India is the single largest producer of jute goods in the world, contributing about 60% of the global production. The domestic market continues to be the mainstay of industry consuming about 87% of the total production. At the same time, our export market share is estimated at around 30% of the global market and it is showing an increasing trend. India today earns about Rs 1800 crores per annum through export of jute goods as against Rs 233 crores in early sixties. The domestic market price of raw jute this year has gone to all-time high of more than Rs 5000 per quintal, which has made jute farming very remunerative to the farmers. Leaf fallen from jute crop during a season (about 1500 kg per ha on dry weight basis) contributes about 29 kg N, 15 kg P, 24 kg K along with 21 kg Ca and 15 kg Mg to the soil. Fallen leaves could be used as a source of organic manures. In India, jute stick alone can provide 29 GJ of energy per year which may be used to produce bio-fuel. Jute leaf, rich in antioxidant content, is now globally recognized as a high-value vegetable and farmers can make additional income through its export.
Jute sector is experiencing a comeback in major jute producing countries of the world as reflected in the increasing demands for raw jute during last 3-4 years. Shortage of supply has been causing continuous increase in the raw jute price in major jute producing countries like Bangladesh. Increasing awareness of environment issues and diversified use of jute have contributed to the recent development of jute sector for the last few years. Jute is biodegradable natural fiber whose traditional use was confined in packaging industry. Today nontraditional or diversified uses of jute as jute yarn, jute geo-textile, jute pulp and paper, jute composites and other jute diversified products seems to be the main driving force for the future development of raw jute, pushing demand and consequently increasing raw jute price.
Nearly 75% of jute goods are used as packaging materials, hessian and sacks. The other products are carpet yarn, cordage, felts, padding, twine, ropes, decorative fabrics, and miscellaneous items for industrial use. The thrust on production of sacking and hessian may be attributed to the Govt of India’s Jute Packaging Material Act, 1987 for mandatory use of jute bags for packing food grains and sugar in the domestic market. The production of hessian, sacking, carpet backing cloth (CBC) and other jute goods during the last 5 years is presented in the following table.
Table 1. Production of Jute Goods in India (in 000 MT)

Source: Office of the Jute Commissioner, Govt of India
On an average, 11-12% of total productions of jute goods in the country are exported all over the world. The USA and European countries are the principal importers of jute goods. The trend of exports of jute products during the last 5 years is shown in the following table.
Table 2. Trend in exports of jute goods from India (values in Million Rupees)

Source: Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics, Kolkata
JDPs (Jute Diversified Products): Today jute can be defined as an eco-friendly natural fiber with versatile application prospects ranging from geo-textiles, hand/shopping bags to high value carpet, apparel, composites, decorative, upholstery furnishings, fancy non-woven’s for new products, decorative colour boards, etc. Jute with its unique versatility deserves to be branded as the ‘fiber for the future’. The Jute Technology Mission (JTM) undertaken by the National Jute Board during 2007-2013 focused attention on JDPs and took JDP activities in 26 states covering 160 districts. It played a key role in the empowerment of rural women and developed as many as 2106 WSHGs comprising of 28000 women. Consequently, jute diversified industry has been growing significantly. A recent survey revealed that there are more than 2423 units producing and/exporting various types of JDPs in the country, which are mostly in the decentralized sector with an annual aggregated sales turnover of about Rs 2611.33 crores in 2012-13 employing about 1,99,000 people. Exports of JDPs, as may be seen in the table below, have steady are increasing trend. JDP sector accounted for about 28% of total exports of jute products from India in 2014-15.
Table 3. Trend in exports of JDPs from India (values in Million Rupees)

Source: Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics, Kolkata
Production of jute in India is concentrated in the traditional Gangetic delta areas of West Bengal, Bihar and Assam. During TE 2013-14, West Bengal accounted for 74 percent of total jute production in the country, followed by Bihar (17 percent) and Assam (6 percent). In terms of area under jute cultivation, West Bengal accounts for 67 percent followed by Bihar (17 percent). But due to inroads of cheaper synthetic alternatives, jute has gradually lost market share to a significant extent. About 90% of the jute farmers in India belong to the marginal and small categories of which almost 65% are with 1 hectare and below and 25% with 2 ha and below land holdings. In the existing rice-based cropping system of eastern region, there is little scope for further increasing area under cultivation of jute. Again being a rained crop, its production largely depends on the vagaries of monsoon. Scrutiny of data presented in the following table shows that area under jute cultivation is on decline in the country since 2011- 12. During the last five years, area under jute cultivation in India declined from 9.05 lakh ha to 8.08 lakh ha. However, the production of raw jute during this period hovered between 19.11 lakh MT and 21.27 lakh MT due to increase in yield during the same period
Table 4. Trend in raw jute and mesta cultivation in India

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India

This declining trend may be attributed to stiff competition from cheaper synthetic fibers, changing climatic conditions, erratic nature of rainfall over space, time and quantity, shortage of farm labour, non-availability of quality seeds and other inputs, shrinking availability of fresh water for retting, and options of remunerative alternative crops available with the farmers. To sustain jute fiber production and meet the growing market demand, in such a situation, the only alternative left is to strive for increasing productivity and improving quality of fibre.
CRIJAF has been striving hard since its inception to improve the livelihood of five million people of India who are directly or indirectly involved in jute farming. To meet the above challenges, CRIJAF scientists have developed number of technologies for increasing yield and quality of jute fiber under various biotic and a biotic constraint, reducing cost of cultivation and thereby increasing income of the family farms in eastern India.
Development of improved varieties: CRIJAF is leading the crop improvement programme of jute and allied fibers in the country and successfully incorporated the desirable traits in the new varieties. A number of short-duration, high-yielding and pre-mature flowering resistant olitorius varieties like JRO878, JRO7835 and JRO524 have been developed which replaced about 90% of C. capsularis area and increased fiber yield from 11 q/ha (in 1960s) to 25 q/ha (in 2015). The newly released tossa jute varieties could fit well in multiple cropping systems. Then new jute varieties like JRO8432, JRO128, JRO204, Ira, S19, CO58 and JBO1 released subsequently by CRIJAF have high yields with finer fiber quality and meet the requirement of industries engaged in development of JDPs (Pandey et al. 2015). The production of breeder seeds of all the jute and allied fiber crop varieties is done by CRIJAF. CRIJAF has taken initiatives to produce quality seeds of newly released and improved jute varieties in limited quantity at its headquarters and regional stations and distribute among the farmers under the brand name ‘CRIJAF Seed’ for their popularization. CRIJAF has also demonstrated technology for successful production of quality jute seeds in non-traditional areas, viz. the drier tracts of West Bengal (Bankura and Purulia districts) and its profitability. In the pilot project conducted there, farmers got higher income from jute seed production compared to traditional upland paddy cultivation (Bera et al. 2014).
Farm mechanization: It was well established that the line sowing of jute increases fiber yield by 10-15% over traditional broadcasting besides reducing the seed requirement by over 50%. Manually operated multi-row (4 and 5 rows) seed drill has been developed by CRIJAF for line sowing of jute. By using this machine, one labourer can complete sowing of seeds in one ha area in just 5 to 6 hours. Seed requirement is reduced by 3-4 kg/ha (50%) as compared with the traditional broadcast method of sowing seed. Line sowing favours better intercultural operations especially weeding and reduces the cost of cultivation. CRIJAF has also developed a manually operated Nail Weeder for mechanical control of young weed flora including the germinating ones from line sown jute and other field crops (cereals, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables). This implement could reduce the labour requirement for weeding by 65%. It also works as a soil mulching tool and helps in conserving soil moisture (Ghorai et al. 2013). CRIJAF has recently developed a simple apparatus (Herbicide Applicator/ Brush) for application of non-selective herbicides in line sown jute and mesta crops. Use of such herbicides reduces cost of weeding by Rs 5000-6000/ha over manual weeding. This herbicide applicator completely eliminates the common drift hazard of herbicides experienced with conventional sprayers.

Management of drought in jute under deficit rainfall: Use of soil or straw mulches helps in conserving soil moisture and thereby protects jute crop from drought. Line sowing of jute seed @ 8-10 kg/ha in open furrows, developed by nine type cultivator (ridge base 20-25 cm wide and furrow depth 8-10 cm) helps to collect rainwater in furrows and assure germination under low rainfall. Strip cropping of maize, green gram, etc. with jute in 9:9 ratio, binding of the borders of jute fields, and application of S @ 30 kg/ha followed by a life-saving irrigation provide insurance against serious production or profit loss under deficit water conditions.
Table: Water productivity of jute under different drought management practices

Source: Dr. A. K. Ghorai, CRIJAF (unpublished)

Intercropping of jute with pulses: As an insurance against failure of jute crop due to drought and for increasing income of farmers, CRIJAF has developed and demonstrated jute-green gram intercropping technology. Intercropping of jute with short-duration green gram in 1:1 ratio smothers weeds and increases the net return of the farmers. Growing of pre-mature flowering resistant jute variety like JRO204 and short duration green gram variety like TMB37, Pant mung 4 or Pant mung 5 together produces 30 to 35 q jute fiber and 6 to 10 q pulse grain per hectare. The jute equivalent yield may reach upto 55 q/ha whereas yield of sole jute crop is around 35 q/ha. However, sowing of the crops is critical for success of such intercropping. It has been found that sowing must be made between 15th and 25th March, as early sowing will lead to jute flowering and late sowing will damage pulse grain by rain. Practice of such intercropping not only increases income of the farmers (B:C ratio varies between 2.20 and 2.46) but also will provide protein security to the rural population (Ghorai et al. 2015).

Soil test and target yield based fertilizer recommendation: CRIJAF scientists have developed soil test and target yield based equations for fertilizer application to jute and other crops in the system grown in alluvial soil (Typic Eutrochrept) of eastern India, taking into account the nutrient requirement of the crops and contributions of NPK from the nutrient sources (soil, fertilizer, and farmyard manure). The fertilizer prescription equations and ready table can successfully be used in the larger part of alluvial soils of eastern India as effective guides for efficient integrated nutrient management in jute and other crops in the sequence to reduce cost of cultivation, increase fertilizer-use efficiency, and maintain soil fertility with judicious use of organic manure with chemical fertilizers (Singh et al. 2015). Therefore, fertilizer recommendations based on soil tests and targeted yields may be useful tools for balanced fertilization of nutrients.
Management of excess water condition in jute cultivation: Water logging reduces plant height by 14-32%, basal diameter by 11-29% and biomass yield by 31-48% of both olitorius and capsularis jute. It generated poor quality, rooty fiber. Jute fields should be connected with a safe outlet through a field ditch (30-40 cm depth and 20 cm wide) to remove excess water. Adequate drainage facility may be arranged for proper growth and yield. 20-60% higher yield can be obtained through surface and internal drainage over water logging. JRO 524 is a suitable jute variety for waterlogged soil (0-30 cm) where drainage is not feasible. JRO 524 and Hybrid C produced higher fibre (by 35-58%) on raised bed (in well-drained soil).

Method for retting jute with low volume of water: In-situ micro-pond method developed by CRIJAF requires only 90 m3 of water for retting jute harvested from 1 hectare area compared to 421 m3 water required by traditional retting method (Ghorai et al. 2013).. A circular micro pond (71 to 80 m2 ) having 0.75 m depth, 6.50 m floor diameter, 7.50 m top diameter, 1.00 m wide earthen embankment raised up to 0.60 m from the surface and lined with tarpaulin/silpaulin sheet (200 GSM, 30 ft x 27 ft) is suitable to ret jute or mesta plants of one acre if sown in 1/3rd acre land each time at 15 days interval starting from 20th March. The tarpaulin/silpaulin sheet is tied with ropes from its rings attached to it with bamboo pegs fixed round the periphery of the pond. For retting in rainwater, the pond should be dug (1.20 m depth) at the lowest corner of the field. Blunt base (by ramming) of jute or mesta bundles are arranged on the pond floor over silpaulin sheet radially up to three layers with bases towards periphery on straw /grass beds. Forty to 50 leak proof cemented bags of sand, stones or soil are used as weight material. Twenty to 30 buckets of water from old retting pond/ditches/microbial consortia (CRIJAF) are added for quicker retting. The pond is filled with ground water in drought. It may require one or two additional irrigations (for 1 hour each) depending on rainfall upto retting. Lime solution (2 kg/15 L water) is applied on micro pond water along the periphery to prevent itching. During extraction, dirty water upto 1 feet depth is drained off and fresh ground water is applied in the pond at a point at least 5-6 feet away from the point of fiber extraction to avoid blackening of fibers. We got clear and lustrous fiber of jute and mesta (grade 1 to grade 2). Plastic is removed after retting and stored for use in next 4 to 5 years. Cauliflower, broccoli, basil leaf, dioscorea, brinjal, snake gourd or other vegetables may be grown on the embankment and fishes in the pond in retentive soil. Using this retting method, net return from this said land was around Rs 5000/ha/year over Rs 1000 alone in rice-pulse cropping system. Rainwater should be harvested repeatedly in this model tank for providing irrigation to rice and following crops in drought spells.

Improved retting technology: CRIJAF has developed a talc based microbial formulation ‘CRIJAF Sona’ consisting of three bacterial isolates of Bacillus pumilus having very high pectinolytic and xylanolytic activity without any cellulose activity which can reduce retting duration of jute in stagnant water by 6 to 7 days, improves fiber quality in terms of color, lusture and strength (Majumdar et al. 2013). Use of this formulation for retting improves the quality of fiber by 1 to 2 grades. Application of about 30 kg talc based formulation is required for retting jute plants harvested from one ha area. The formulation is user friendly and does not have any adverse effect on human health. In field demonstrations, jute farmers’ income increased by Rs 5000 to 6000 per ha over the conventional retting method.
Impact of improved production technologies of CRIJAF: During the last 5 years, productivity of jute fiber has increased by about 15%. The cost of production has reduced by about Rs 10,000 per ha due to use of seed drills and nail weeder. Production and distribution of quality jute seeds of newly released and improved varieties have increased their adoption by the farmers.
Jute ICARE programme: CRIJAF has been identified as a strategic collaborator of the National Jute Board (Ministry of Textile, Govt of India) for their Jute-ICARE (Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise) programme to popularize the improved jute production technologies to the farmers. Last year, about 35000 farmers covering 11,500 ha area in Nadia, Murshidabad (West Bengal) and Nagaon district (Assam) were demonstrated the benefits of using certified seeds of improved variety JRO 204, multi row seed drill for line sowing, Nail Weeder for mechanical control of weeds and CRIJAF Sona for faster and improved retting of jute. Observing the success of the first year, NJB has decided to expand the area under ICARE programme by several folds in the coming season.

Summary and Conclusion
Jute is grown as the most important cash crop in the family farms of eastern India. It supports more than 40 lakh farm families and generates employment for almost another 10 lakh people engaged in industry and trade involving jute fiber. Due to stiff competition from cheaper synthetic fibers, changing climatic conditions, erratic nature of rainfall over space, time and quantity, shortage of farm labour, non-availability of quality seeds and other inputs, shrinking availability of fresh water for retting and competing alternate crops area under jute cultivation is on decline in the country since 2011-12. CRIJAF has developed a number of technologies in recent years to meet the challenges. Adoption of these technologies have increased yield and quality of jute fiber, reduced cost of cultivation and thereby increased income of the family farms in eastern India. The National Jute Board, Govt of India has recently launched the ‘JuteICARE’ programme to promote selected CRIJAF technologies in important jute growing regions for sustaining jute fiber production of the country.
References
Kundu DK, Mitra S, Kar CS, Mitra J, Sarkar SK, Chowdhury H, Meshram JH and
Ramasubramanian, Eds. (2011) Vision 2030. Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (ICAR), Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120. 18p.
Pandey SK, Satya P, Kar CS, Mitra J, Mitra S, Saha AR and Karmakar PG (2015) Jute
Varieties of India, Bull. No. 3/2015. Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (ICAR), Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120. 46p
Bera A, Kar CS, Kumar M, De RK, Kumar S, Pandey SK, Anil Kumar A, Maruti RT, Biswas
C, Mandal AB, Mahapatra BS and Satpathy (2014) Quality Jute Seed Production: Endeavour of CRIJAF. Bull. No. 3/2014. Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (ICAR), Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120. 24p.
Ghorai AK, Kumar M, Kumar S and Islam S (2015) Intercropping in jute with green gram for
Weed smothering. Paper presented at 25th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference held at Hyderabad during 13-16 Oct 2015.
Ghorai AK, Chowdhury H, Kundu DK, Kumar M, Barman D, Mahapatra BS and Tripathi MK
(2013) Insitu jute retting in low volume water in polyethylene lined micro pond using native culture and poly culture in and around it. Bull. No. 6/2013. Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (ICAR), Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120. 20p.

Ghorai AK, Chowdhury H, Kumar M, Majumdar B, Kundu DK, Roy M, Mahapatra BS, Sarkar
S, Jha SK, Kumar S and Shamna A (2013) CRIJAF Nail Weeder. Extension Folder. Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibers (ICAR), Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120. 6p.
Majumdar B, Sarkar S, Das S, Bhadra A, Saha AR, Ghorai AK, Chowdhury H, Kundu DK and
Mahapatra BS (2013) Improved retting of jute and mesta with user friendly talc based microbial formulation in stagnant water. Extension Folder. Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (ICAR), Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120. 6p.
Singh SR, Maitra DN, Kundu DK, Majumdar B, Saha AR and Mahapatra BS (2015) Integrated
Fertilizer prescription equations for recommendations of fertilizers in jute-rice-garden pea sequence on alluvial soil of eastern India. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 46(1): 1-15.

Royal Exchange, 3rd Floor, 6, Netaji Subhash Road, Kolkata - 700 001.