Information sheets are an idea I have had for a while – these will, hopefully, be a resource for all readers. This is the first of a library of i/sheets that you can consult at any time. I do not intend to write them all – if you have an idea for one and would like to submit it, please use the form on the ‘contact me’ page. There is no planned timetable for posting these, they will appear – as and when – a good subject comes along!
WHAT IS JUTE?
I have been buying in quite a lot of jute, in one form or another. There is hessian, cones of spun jute for weaving, and garden ties, shopping bags and laundry/storage baskets – all currently listed across the 4 sites you will find underneath my photo on the right hand side. (Clicking on these 3 photos will also take you to my sites.) I just accepted the notion that it is a cheap, reliably strong material from which certain products were made. I didn’t even pause to wonder where it grew and what it was – maybe you were always better informed than I was – but I doubt if everyone knows much about jute and where it comes from.
It is always described as Eco Friendly by my suppliers, and I can trust their descriptions, because they provide proof of where the items come from and even pictures of the people that make them. But – come to think of it – I can’t remember them doing a piece on jute! So the first place I went to for information was Wikipedia – easy as that! They even had pictures! “Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus. ……..”Jute” is the name of the plant or fiber that is used to make burlap, Hessian or gunny cloth……..Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibers and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses of vegetable fibers. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin……. The fibers are off-white to brown, and 1–4 metres (3–13 feet) long. Jute is also called “the golden fiber” for its color and high cash value. Another search for pictures led me to this blog, written in 2012, so rather than paraphrase it, I’m just copying most of it from:
Jute Harvesting and Basic Processing
Jute is a natural fibre that is mainly grown across West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh with some also grown in, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Thailand and China. The jute is taken from the stem and the skin of the stem, which is called the ribbon. It is a crop that has been used for centuries and there is evidence that the Chinese were using jute fibres as the basis for early paper. The industry really began to develop with the building of large scale mills during the time of the British East India Company. The jute was initially exported to the UK and to Dundee in particular, where there was a well-established flax industry. Initially the fibre could only be processed by hand but it was discovered that whale oil allowed to be processed by machine. The jute industry went through a boom time and the factory owners in Dundee became known as the Jute Barons. This is yet another example of the value being added to the product outside of the “colonies” for the greater good of the colonial powers. Following the decline and fall of the British Empire and the discovery and mass production of artificial fibres the mills began to close. The industry has been in decline for some years, and although the demand for natural fibres has improved things, the increase has not been as great as hoped. Jute is known as the “golden fibre” in Bangladesh and is an important source of income for the farmers. I took these photographs during my recent trip to northern Bangladesh, around Saidpur. It was the end of the growing season and the harvest was just beginning. The jute is harvested and then allowed to soak for a few days in water before the fibres can be stripped off and left to dry. It is then transported, often by bicycle rickshaw, to collection points before being taken to the mills where it is processed and turned into the familiar fibres found in sacks, carpet backing and bags. Jute can also be processed into finer, more delicate yarns which occasionally are turned into clothes. Jute awaiting harvest Jute being harvested The jute is then bundled and left to soak in water. Here it’s soaking next to a partially flooded Hindu graveyard After the jute has soaked for a few days, the fibres can then be stripped from the stems The fibres are then dried, often on the side of the road before being taken to the collection points and then the mills And going back to Wikipedia
- Jute fiber is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly.
- Jute has low pesticide and fertilizer needs.
- It is a natural fiber with golden and silky shine and hence called The Golden Fiber.
- It is the cheapest vegetable fiber procured from the bast or skin of the plant’s stem.
- It is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton, in terms of usage, global consumption, production, and availability.
Jute has loads of uses – and the leaves are eaten in many of the producing countries These are the 2011 production figures for the various countries that produce jute:
|Top ten jute producers — 2011|
|People’s Republic of China||43,500|