Brighter days ahead

BANGLADESH'S jute industry may finally see better days. In what Bangladesh industry minister A M Zahiruddin Khan calls a technological breakthrough, the country's scientists have developed the knowhow to manufacture packaging papers, hardboard and even a soft fibre akin to silk, using green jute plants.

Bangladesh, once the world's biggest jute producer, has had a hard time keeping the jute industry out of the red. Jute fibre, traditionally used to make sacking and carpet-backing cloth for export, is facing stiff competition from cheap, light, synthetic fibres. However, now that scientists have found a way to substitute pulp from bamboo and wood in paper mills, with jute-based pulp, the future looks brighter.