Farmers are getting better jute prices this year as the local mills are struggling to meet a growing demand for the natural fibre from international buyers.
The prices of jute products have also shot up by 30 to 35 per cent this year in the international market, as the global consumers are increasingly bent upon using natural fibres to keep environment clean, officials said.
The country's jute mills, owned by the government, are running in full capacity to meet the demand for jute products placed by the foreign buyers.
"We have already received orders worth around US $ 100 million. Our 22 mills are operating to their full capacities to manufacture bags, sacks and other items," said AFM Solaiman Chowdhury, chairman of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).
"Farmers look happy to sell a maund (37.50 Kg approximately) of jute at Tk 700," said Tuhin Sarker, a trader of Dinajpur.
Tuhin said last month raw jute was selling at Tk 640 per maund and it rose to Tk 700 very recently. Last year, the jute price varied from Tk 500 to Tk 550 per maund, he said.
The country produced 800,000 tonnes of raw jute this year, of which the government-owned mills will use 250,000 tonnes.
"We have borrowed from banks Tk 560 million to purchase raw jute," said the BJMC chairman, adding that the export subsidy worth Tk 500 million it received from the government is also being used for buying jute from the farmers.
Of the Tk 500 million, the government has already released Tk 250 million, Chowdhury said. The BJMC has fixed prices of raw jute at Tk 650 to Tk 870 per maund.
Last financial year, Bangladesh exported jute goods worth US $ 307 million, up by 50 million and exporters hope a boost in jute trade this year. The export of raw jute also rose by $ 25 million to $ 80 million in the last financial year.
The Export Promotion Bureau projected $ 350 million worth of jute product exports during the current financial year. The projection for raw jute is US $ 125 million.
"Our traditional buyers are India, Middle East, Africa, Australia, South Asia, Japan and China. But they all have increased jute product consumption," BJMC chairman said.