Dilution of jute packaging norms may fuel farm suicides
Expecting a bumper jute crop this season, the Jute Commissioner's (JC) office is all set to recommend to the Centre against dilution of mandatory jute packaging on fears that it may drive farmers to suicide.
A meeting of the Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Ministry of Textiles on July 15 is slated to discuss the procurement plan for the 2016-17 season.
The JC forecasts jute production during the current season to be in excess of 90 lakh bales.
The commissionerate officials feel that any dilution in mandatory packaging in food grains from the current 90 per cent would set back demand of jute bags, forcing mills to cut down production leading to large-scale unemployment, which could create a law and order situation as well.
If the Centre tries to dilute the rabi crop packaging order, "there will be a slump in prices of raw jute, leading to an adverse situation and even jute farmers committing suicides", they said.
The Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) wants dilution of food grain packaging to 75 per cent from 90 per cent and is keen to do away with the mandate for sugar from the 20 per cent currently.
The Jute Commission, the custodian of the jute sector, had fought for protection of the mandate in the 2015-16 season.
But due to acute shortage in output coupled with malpractices, prices of raw jute went up sharply, which meant a drop in jute bag production and failure in supply contracts by mills.
The Centre seemed unhappy with the situation as a rise in cost of producing packaging bags led to a higher subsidy for the industry.
According to industry estimate, over a million people are associated with jute farming and working in jute mills.