The diversification of jute goods has opened up a new horizon for Md Toha Morshed, chief executive officer of Barlap Footwear, a Gazipur-based export-oriented fashionable shoe company.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Morshed was engaged in creating advertisements for the media.
Determined not to take a regular job, he started searching for new businesses. Finally in 2016 he found jute goods to be the ideal product and started his business.
“Googling, searching YouTube and Facebook helped me become an entrepreneur as I found the designs, markets and buyers of the diversified goods through those social media,” said Morshed.
“Every year my company can ship jute goods worth more than $4 million, mainly ladies' shoes and bags, to Italy, France, Spain and Egypt,” he told this correspondent in his stall at a jute goods fair yesterday.
Organised by the Ministry of Textiles and Jute at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka, the three-day fair ended yesterday.
Demand for jute products like fashionable bags, purses, shoes, handbags and carpets has been increasing worldwide because customers no longer like plastic goods, he said.
Buyers supply the designs and 50 workers make the goods in Morshed's factory, situated on one bigha of land at Chandana in Gazipur. The lowest price he got for a pair of shoes is $2.50 and the highest $20.
“I am hopeful that the lost glory of the jute sector will be revived very soon as international customers are showing interest on environment-friendly Bangladeshi goods,” he said. Md Enamul Hoque (Liton), managing partner of 1 World Exim, another jute goods manufacturing and exporting company, said he also supplies jute goods worth Tk 3.5 crore a year to foreign customers and local markets from his Demra-based factory.
“Almost all the items we use in our everyday life can be made from jute,” said Liton, who mainly produces gift items for customers.
Nakul Chandra Sarkar, a salesman at Rangpur Craft, a Rangpur-based handicrafts factory, said a lot of handmade carpets, both big and small, were made in his factory.
Apart from carpets, he produces ladies' handbags, mats, dolls, baskets, bedsheets and saris from jute.
Bangladeshi local manufacturers can make 240 types of goods from raw jute.
The government has been giving 20 percent subsidy to manufacturers, aiming to encourage them to go for diversification of jute products.
Mirza Azam, state minister for textiles and jute, at a seminar on Wednesday said jute production increased gradually from 65 lakh bales in 2014 to 70 lakh bales last year for better prices ensured by a government rule making its use mandatory in goods packaging.
More than 100 crore sacks were additionally produced for the rule and local entrepreneurs expanded the export base increasing the types of jute goods from 135 last year to 240 this year, he said.