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Agro Industries in India
Jute is a bio-degradable vegetable fibre and produces eco-friendly natural product. Following cotton, jute is considered the cheapest and a significant fibre among all textile fibres. After 1960s, jute craze in India had gone down. It was particularly down when it was realized that most of the jute-growing lands have remained in Bangladesh. Other reasons are, traditionally jute was used in sacking and gunny bag. Consumption therefore remained lesser than the production. Jute has faced hard competition from synthetics. The cause of replacement of jute was petro-chemical industries. Therefore, traditional uses of jute have declined due to availability of other substitutes. Natural raw materials products got replaced by synthetic products. As a result, its demand in local and overseas markets had declined. Innovations and experiments with jute were quite slow. But men have never abandoned it completely in our country too. Many studies have been done on the pulping of jute in home and abroad. As a result there has been successful development of the various versions of this golden fibre. Jute, (Corchorus capsularis) is the one of the most important cash crops of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Brazil and others. Absence of modern marketing procedures also affected jute industry. As a result, the cultivation got discouraged. In this chain of development of the jute industry, employment was severely affected too. A section of the population got affected due to these reasons which led to the decline of jute industry and employment. Today the Indian government is determined to revive the jute industry of the country. It wants to make jute industry a diversified area. During the Tenth Five Year plan period, the National Jute Policy, National Jute Board Bill as well as Jute Technology Mission with an outlay of Rs. 355.5 crore have been approved by the Government in respect of the jute sector. The Government of India has launched “Jute Technology Mission (JTM)” with effect from 2007-08, spanning a period of 5 years (11th Five Year Plan Period), for overall development of the Jute Industry in the country and promotion of jute and jute products at home and abroad. JTM provides for “Setting up of Jute Parks for the Diversified Sector”. The Union Textile Ministry has decided to set up 9 jute parks. The minimum land requirement for establishing Jute Parks in N.E. States and other Tribal Areas was fixed at 10 acres land which is lowered in comparison to outside the north-east region. For setting up Jute Parks in NE States the subsidy fixed is 90%. The first one is placed in our home state and in our Cachar district.
The one at Silchar is named as Assam Golden Fibre Jute Park Private Limited. It is exactly located at Narsingpur area of Cachar district. It is around 22 kms away from the city. Our fertile district is however, not a principal jute-growing area like Dhubri and Goalpara districts in other parts of Assam. Cachar district grows jute only in 183 hectares of land. It is the first venture of its kind in the Northeast. It is a public-private entrepreneurship. The raw materials are presently provided from Bihar and West Bengal. But in future jute is expected to be grown in our district. As a result, a section of cultivators can be in huge economic advantage if they are trained and guided to enter the employment market in a meaningful way. Presently 60% of rural population of our country is ‘self-employed’. These people are employed at very low wage rates. Regular wage employment is only around 7% in the rural areas. The rural regions are agrarian based and this agrarian-based sector is seasonal. This has led to further employment problems. The case is similar in north-east, Assam and Cachar district. ‘Regular employment’ is lower in poorer states like ours. The challenge therefore is to enhance the skill of the labour force to enter the ‘regular employment’ category in rural areas. Assam and other states of the north-east has been experiencing turbulent political scenario from many decades. This has affected the growth and development of the region. As a result this region has been delinked from the national growth spectrum. The need for enhanced governmental interventions in social and economic development in the State has been recognized as a necessity.
The inception of the park has made the people of the vicinity very happy. It has already started generating employment for the youth of this industrially backward district of Assam. It is employing educated youth, who earlier had to quit their home places for jobs outside the north-east. It is employing artisans in hundreds to train them in making the various kinds of jute products. There are already around five hundred men and women employed in the project. In the employment Exchanges in Assam 80% youth registered are unskilled. The placement opportunity of this group is negligible. Adding to them, there are the mounting numbers of youth in the rural areas of our states. A project like the jute park will surely bring some amount of balance for the unemployment problem. Presently it is engaged in training the desirable youth in manufacturing and supplying jute bags, jute sandals / shoes, jute particle boards, jute curtains, jute carpets and others. The products are all eco-friendly. The rural area is showing fast signs of progress and is expected to expand as a wing of the city. The Park is on the verge of setting up as many stalls as possible all around Silchar. In its roadmaps, it has plans to use preparing to use jute in geo-textiles, paper-making and even in soil-management and road construction in future. The Park has already started getting handsome orders from all over the country. Mills are expected to come in this mega-project in near future. Inception of a nearby mill will make the network more scientific and webbed. Sector-focused approach like this, will aim at faster growth with high employment potential. It will also bring some sort of balance with the growth and development rate of our nearby city. Apart from employment generation this agrarian project will also help in the handloom and textile sector. The north-east region people are used to handloom products. So the jute project will add to the meeting the needs of the local market with its various products.