Pitching for diversification of jute products, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday said there is a need to look at the potential of jute for the building of smart cities and infrastructure.
"Today, when we talk about diversification of jute products, we look at not only card holder, shopping bag, etc., but also look at the potential of jute for building of smart cities and infrastructure," she said at the 27th Technological Conference organised by the Indian Jute Industries' Research Association (IJIRA).
According to her, the industry stands at Rs 10,000 crore at valuation but has a huge potential to grow.
Emphasising on the need for research and development in geo-textiles, she said the scientific data can infuse confidence in industry partners and ministries like Road Transport and also provide enough impetus to include geo-textiles for building infrastructure.
With the intervention of IJIRA's 'Subhra', a biochemical formulation, the industry has seen the faster jute retting process and the labour intensity for retting has come down to 7-10 days, Irani said.
Along with the reducing number of manhours in the retting process, the formulation ensured the grade of jute output has increased by 1-1.5 times, she said.
She also touched upon the need for improvement of quality raw jute.
"We are the biggest producer of jute. But why would not we compete at the same level with Bangladesh? If you look at the Bangladesh business model, they have diversified jute products," she said.
Speaking at an interactive session here on Tuesday late evening, she said, "On the Indian Jute Industry, why would not you diversify in terms of product range as much as Bangladesh does? The industry said the problem begins with the quality of raw jute."
According to Irani, jute has been used for the building of roads and studies have validated the life-span of the roads increases with the use of jute materials. The golden fibre has also been effective in checking soil erosion.
"We need to emphasise on jute to be used for purposes of building infrastructure purposes, like roads and river embankment," she said.
In 2017-18 for the minimum support price operation, the Jute Corporation of India has spent Rs 46.78 crore till now.
The Ministry has a scheme for promoting the use of geo-textiles in the northeast and has sanctioned close to Rs 427 crore especially for this initiative, she said.
Irani also said she was in favour of standardisation of technical textiles.
"Our definition of technical textiles varies from the international definition. Hence, I have asked industry associations to come up with definition, parameters which are applicable and acceptable internationally.
"When we talk about influencing the global markets, your standard has to be same with international standard. Then, the acceptability increases," she added.