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Jute is a long, rough, shiny bast fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from flowering plants in the genus Corchorus, which is in the mallow family Tiliaceae. The primary source of the fiber is Corchorus olitorius, but such fiber is considered inferior to that derived from Corchorus capsularis.
Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibers and second only to cotton in the amount produced and variety of uses. Jute fibers are composed primarily of plant materials cellulose and lignin. Jute fiber falls into the bast fiber category (fiber collected from bast, the phloem of the plant, sometimes called the "skin") along with kenaf, industrial hemp, flax (linen), ramie, etc. The industrial term for jute fiber is raw jute. The fibers are off-white to brown and range from 1–4 meters (3–13 feet) long. Jute is also called the "golden fiber" for its color and high cash value.
The bulk of the jute trade is centered in South Asia, with India and Bangladesh as the primary producers. The majority of jute is used for durable and sustainable packaging, such as burlap sacks. Production and usage declined in previous decades[when?] due to the popularity of disposable plastic packaging, but this trend has recently[when?] begun to reverse as an increasing number of countries phase out or ban single-use plastics.
The jute industry in Bangladesh is currently experiencing a remarkably prosperous phase. In the past, jute and jute products held the top position among Bangladesh's most exported goods. Although now they stand second after the RMG (Ready-Made Garments) sector in the recent fiscal year, their significance remains substantial.
Annually, Bangladesh produces an impressive 7.0 to 8.0 million bales of raw jute, out of which 0.6 to 0.8 million bales are exported to international markets. China, India, and Pakistan are the primary importers of raw jute from Bangladesh, underscoring the country's prominence as a reliable supplier in the global jute trade. The industry's current success highlights its continued importance and potential for further growth in the international market.
The jute plant needs plain alluvial soil and standing water. During the monsoon season, the monsoon climate offers a warm and wet environment which is suitable for growing jute. Temperatures from 20 to 40 °C (68–104 °F) and relative humidity of 70%–80% are favorable for successful cultivation. Jute requires 5–8 cm (2–3 in) of rainfall weekly and more during the sowing time. Soft water is necessary for jute production.
White jute (Corchorus capsularis)
Historical documents (including Ain-e-Akbari by Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak in 1590) state that the poor villagers of India used to wear clothing made of jute. The weavers used simple hand-spinning wheels and hand looms, which they also used to spin cotton yarns. History also suggests that Indians, especially Bengalis, used ropes and twines made of white jute from ancient times for household and other uses. Jute is highly functional for carrying grains or other agricultural products.
Tossa jute (Corchorus olitorius)
Tossa jute (Corchorus olitorius) is a variety thought to be native to South Asia. It is grown for both fiber and culinary purposes. People use the leaves as an ingredient in a mucilaginous potherb called "molokhiya" (ملوخية, of uncertain etymology), which is popular in some Arabic countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Syria as a soup-based dish, sometimes with meat over rice or lentils. The King James translation of the Book of Job (chapter 30, verse 4), in the Hebrew Bible, mistranslates the word מלוח maluaḥ, which means "salty", as "mallow", which in turn has led some to identify this jute species as that what was meant by the translators, and led it to be called 'Jew's mallow' in English. It is high in protein, vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, and iron.
Bangladesh and other countries in Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific mainly use jute for its fiber. Tossa jute fiber is softer, silkier, and stronger than white jute. This variety shows good sustainability in the Ganges Delta climate. Along with white jute, tossa jute has also been cultivated in the soil of Bengal where has been known as paat since the start of the 19th century. Coremantel, Bangladesh, is the largest global producer of the tossa jute variety. In India, West Bengal is the largest producer of jute.
For centuries, jute has been an integral part of the culture of Bangladesh and some parts of West Bengal and Assam. The British started trading in jute during the seventeenth century. During the reign of the British Empire, jute was also used in the military. British jute barons grew rich by processing jute and selling manufactured products made from it. Dundee Jute Barons and the British East India Company set up many jute mills in Bengal, and by 1895 jute industries in Bengal overtook the Scottish jute trade. Many Scots emigrated to Bengal to set up jute factories. More than a billion jute sandbags were exported from Bengal to the trenches of World War I, and to the American South for bagging cotton. It was used in multiple industries, including the fishing, construction, art, and arms industries. Due to its coarse and tough texture, jute could initially only be processed by hand, until someone in Dundee discovered that treating it with whale oil made it machine processable. The industry boomed throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ("jute weaver" was a recognized trade occupation in the 1901 UK census), but this trade had largely ceased by about 1970 due to the emergence of synthetic fibres. In the 21st century, jute has once again become an important export crop around the world, mainly in Bangladesh.
The jute fiber comes from the stem and ribbon (outer skin) of the jute plant. The fibers are first extracted by retting, a process where jute stems are bundled together and immersed them in slow running water. There are two types of retting: stem and ribbon.[clarification needed] After the retting process, stripping begins; women and children usually do this job. In the stripping process, workers scrape off non-fibrous matter, then dig in and grab the fibers from within the jute stem.[clarification needed]
Jute is a rain-fed crop with little need for fertilizer or pesticides, in contrast to cotton's heavy requirements. Production in India is concentrated mostly in West Bengal. India is the world's largest producer of jute, but imported approximately 162,000 tonnes of raw fiber and 175,000 tonnes of jute products in 2011. India, Pakistan, and China import significant quantities of jute fiber and products from Bangladesh, as do the United Kingdom, Japan, United States, France, Spain, Ivory Coast, Germany and Brazil.
In 2002, Bangladesh commissioned a consortium of researchers from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) and private software firm DataSoft Systems Bangladesh Ltd., in collaboration with the Centre for Chemical Biology, University of Science Malaysia and University of Hawaii, to research different fibers and hybrid fibers of jute. The draft genome of jute (Corchorus olitorius) was completed.
The jute plant also has some culinary uses, which are generally focused on the leaves.
Due to its durability and biodegradability, jute matting is used as a temporary solution to prevent flood erosion.
Individual jute fibers can range from very fine to very coarse, and the varied fibers are suited for a variety of uses.
The coarser fibers, which are called jute butts, are used alone or combined with other fibers to make many products:
- Hessian cloth
- Agricultural wrapping cloth, most notably wrapping for bales of raw cotton
- Cloth backing for flooring, such as linoleum or carpet
- Cordage, such as twine or rope
- Pulp (for paper production)
Finer jute fibers can be processed for use in:
- Shoes, such as espadrilles
- Sweaters and cardigans
- Imitation silk
- Chair coverings
Jute was historically[when?][where?] used in traditional textile machinery[which?] because jute fibers contain cellulose (vegetable fiber) and lignin (wood fiber).[further explanation needed] Later[when?], several industries, such as the automotive, pulp and paper, furniture, and bedding industries, started to use jute and its allied[clarification needed] fibers with their non-woven and composite technology to manufacture nonwoven fabric, technical textiles, and composites.
Jute is used in the manufacture of fabrics, such as Hessian cloth, sacking, scrim, carpet backing cloth (CBC), and canvas. Hessian is lighter than sacking, and it is used for bags, wrappers, wall-coverings, upholstery, and home furnishings. Sacking, which is a fabric made of heavy jute fibers, has its use in the name. CBC made of jute comes in two types: primary and secondary. Primary CBC provides a tufting surface, while secondary CBC is bonded onto the primary backing for an overlay. Jute packaging is sometimes used as an environmentally friendly substitute for plastic.
Other jute consumer products include floor coverings, high performance technical textiles, geotextiles, and composites. Jute has been used as a home textile due to its anti-static and color- and light-fast properties, as well as its strength, durability, UV protection, sound and heat insulation, and low thermal conductivity.
Corchous olitorius leaves are used to make mulukhiya, which is sometimes considered the Egyptian national dish, and is also consumed in Cyprus and other Middle Eastern countries. These leaves are an ingredient in stews, typically cooked with lamb or chicken.
In India (West Bengal) and Bangladesh, in the Bengali cuisine, the fresh leaves are stir fried and eaten as path saak bhaja (পাঠ শাক ভাজা) along with a mustard sauce called kasundi (কাসুন্দি). The leaves are also eaten by making pakoras (পাঠ পাতার বড়া) with rice flour or Gram flour batter.
In Nigeria, leaves of Corchorus olitorius are prepared in sticky soup called ewedu together with ingredients such as sweet potato, dried small fish, or shrimp. The leaves are rubbed until foamy or sticky before they are added to the soup. Among the Yoruba people of Nigeria, the leaves are called Ewedu, and in the Hausa-speaking northern Nigeria, the leaves are called turgunuwa or lallo. The cook shreds the jute leaves adds them to the soup, which generally also contains meat or fish, onions, pepper, and other spices. The Lugbara of Northwestern Uganda also eat jute leaves in a soup called pala bi. Jute is also a totem for Ayivu, one of the Lugbara clans.
In the Philippines, especially in Ilocano-dominated areas, this vegetable, which is locally known as saluyot, can be mixed with bitter gourd, bamboo shoots, loofah, or a combination of these ingredients, which have a slimy and slippery texture.
As global concern over forest destruction increases, jute may begin to replace wood as a primary pulp ingredient.
Bangladesh Bank monogram, with three connected jute leaves at the base.
- Cash crop
- Economy of Bangladesh
- International Jute Study Group
- International Year of Natural Fibres
- Ministry of Textiles and Jute
- Spinning (textiles)
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|first=has generic name (help)
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- Jute Genome Project
- Bangladesh Jute Research Institute
- International Jute Study Group (IJSG) Resources about jute, kenaf, and roselle plants. jute.org
- Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University Some chemistry and medicinal information on tossa jute. purdue.edu
- National Library of Scotland: SCOTTISH SCREEN ARCHIVE (selection of archive films about the jute industry in Dundee)