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Food ministry shows bias in favour of plastic bags as jute industry falters

Supply of jute bags from jute ministry has remained patchy during the kharif marketing season, prompting the Food ministry to look for other alternatives

Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar 


The Union food ministry has moved for dilution in the mandatory packaging order of food grains given the patchy supply of jute bags during the kharif marketing season (KMS) for 2019-20.

As per the Jute Packaging Materials Act, 100 per cent of food grains need to be compulsorily packed in jute bags. However, the supply position of the remains unsatisfactory, prompting the food ministry to look for alternative packing material.

In fact, the Ministry of food has flagged serious concerns on the inadequate supply of B Twill jute bags meant for packing food grains. Considering the exigencies of food grains procurement, an activity which has already kicked off in some states, the Ministry of food has pushed for dilution in the mandatory jute packing order, paving the way for use of 0.21 million bales (one bale is 180 kg) of high density poly-ethylene (HDPE) or polyethylene (PE) bags. The dilution proposed by the ministry corresponds to 11 per cent of the total packaging requirement for food grains during KMS of FY20.

Government agencies have decided to procure 1.9 million bales of jute bags during the season. Of this envisaged quantity, orders have been issued for 1.31 million bales between June and October this year. As per the estimates by the Office of the Jute Commissioner, the jute industry is still reeling under a supply backlog of 25.4 per cent. The Union ministry of textiles has nudged the Jute Commissioner to press for full supply of the ordered quantity by the mill owners.

Kousik Chakraborty, Deputy Jute Commissioner, in a letter to Raghavendra Gupta, chairman of Indian Association (IJMA) said, “In view of this, you are requested to expedite mills to supply the entire ordered quantity so that the indenting agencies get their requisite quantity of jute bags before the procurement operations begin. You are also requested to reconfirm if the entire backlog quantity can be supplied.”

Each year, the Ministry of food purchases around 3.8 million bales of jute bags from the mills during the kharif and rabi agricultural seasons. The government procurement is valued at Rs 5500-6000 crore.

In August 2019, Jute Commissioner Moloy Chandan Chakraborty had warned of penal action against the in case of wilful default in supply of B Twill jute bags against the Production Control-cum-Supply orders

First Published: Tue, October 15 2019. 20:06 IST