Jute, also known as the golden fiber, belongs to the genus Corchorus and is the cheapest natural vegetable fibre procured from the bast or outer layer of the plant's stem.
It is one of the most important textile fibers and considered second only to cotton. The jute fiber is also known as Pat, kosta, Bimli or Mesta (kenaf).
 Jute cultivation
Bangladesh, together with West Bengal in India, are the producers of most of the world's Jute fibre. There is also cultivation of Jute, or its allied fibre Kenaf known also as Hibiscus Cannabinus which is a coarser textured plant, in other Asian countries like Myanmar and Thailand. And it is also produced in moderate quantity in Brazil.
Jute is a rainy season crop, cultivated from March to May according to rainfall and type of land. The best suited soil for jute is the alluvial soil which gets salt from annual floods. Jute requires a warm and humid climate with temperature between 24° C to 37° C. It is harvested between June and September and early harvesting gives good healthy fibers. The harvested plants are then left in the field for 2 days or more for the leaves to fall off. The stems are then bundled up for steeping in water which is carried out immediately after harvest.
The process of jute fibre extraction from the plant follows a series of steps.
The first step is retting in which the tied jute stalk bundles are put in a tank of water which allows the fibres to loosen and thus get separated from the woody stalk. Then comes fibre extraction or stripping, where the fibres are removed from the stalk. The method of doing this varies. Then the fibres are washed and dried in clean water, the excess water is squeezed off and the fibres are left to dry in the sun for a few days.
 Manufacture of Jute products
Jute, as a natural fibre, has many advantages over synthetic textiles and is known for its luster, high tensile strength, good heat and fire resistance qualities and long staple lengths. Because of the sheer flexibility of the fabric, Jute has lent itself to a number of modern day consumerables and life style products. This is further aided by highly improved jute manufacturing processes such as bleaching, dyeing and finishing process and new technologies that allow Jute to be blended with other synthetic and natural fibres.
Jute is also biodegradable and eco-friendly. It is used in a number of ways that makes it an extremely environment friendly material and it also helps maintain the ecological balance between humans and nature.
 Jute Geo textiles
Though jute has traditionally been used for packaging, the sheer versatility of this fabric has surfaced in the recent times resulting in a range of new products. Jute geotextile is one such new and diversified product which has shown itself to be highly effective in the field of civil engineering particularly in solving many soil-related problems. It is biodegradable, turns into mulch and is extremely conducive to vegetative growth.
There are three kinds of geo textiles:
- Open mesh
- Non woven.
It is being widely used in land slide prevention, railway embankments, hilly terrains, stabilization of sand dunes, re growth and regeneration of vegetation in natural calamity hit areas.
 Jute Uses
Jute is not just used for textile purposes but also has its uses as a versatile raw material for a number of non traditional products. It has traditionally been used as a packing and packaging fabric. Along with twines, bags, canvas, carpets and tarps and different kinds of ropes. With modern technological development and extensive research, jute usage has diversified and the range of products includes new age fabrics, footwear, luggage, molded door panels, stationary and scores of other useful products. To have a more detailed idea, visit Jute Industry. Today, supported by these new technological developments, jute can also be used to replace expensive fibres and help save forest materials.
The fibres are used alone or blended with other types of fibres to make twine and rope. The coarse end of Jute plants are used to make inexpensive cloth. The very fine threads of jute can also be separated out and used to make imitation silk. Jute is also being used to produce ethical, eco-friendly, biodegradable, climate neutral bags. Climate neutral range of products are those which are made of eco friendly natural materials and which are committed to a reduction of CO2 emissions in every step of manufacture and distribution.
Another very important use of Jute fibre is to make pulp and paper. In a time when the world becomes increasingly concerned over the destruction of forests and the cutting of trees for wood pulp, the importance of Jute becomes apparent.
Jute with its unique adaptability, truly is the ‘fibre of the future’.
- Jute is a fast growing crop with a much higher carbon dioxide assimilation rate than trees. One hectare of Jute plants consume over 15 tonnes of CO2, several times higher than trees.
- The Jute industry finanially supports an estimated 5 million people in the poorest regions on Earth.
- Jute is abundantly availabile. It is a renewable and sustainable resource.
- It is a durable material and has the life span of over a thousand plastic carrier bags.
- Jute is a natural bast fibre, a vegetable fibre composed of cellulose which is the main building material of all plants and like all natural fibres, is totally bio-degradeable. This means that when discarded, jute totally decomposes, putting valuable nutrients back into the soil.
- The jute fabric industry was pioneered by mill-owners in Dundee, Scotland, in the 1820s. By the 1850s they were setting up jute mills in India.
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 See Also
- Natural Packaging Materials
- Eco Fibres
- Waste Disposal
- Paper recycling
- Ocean dumping
Natural Packaging Materials