The Indian Government’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved an extension of the mandatory packaging norms for Jute Year 2022-23.

The reservation norms require all foodgrains such as rice and wheat, as well as 20% of sugar, to be packed in jute packaging.

These norms are specified as part of the Jute Packaging Material Act 1987 and were previously made mandatory for Jute Year 2021-22.

The extension will create direct jobs for 370,000 workers at jute mills and ancillary units, as well as a further four million families in the jute sector.

In a statement, the Indian Ministry of Textiles said: “The jute industry occupies an important place in the national economy of India, particularly in West Bengal, where nearly 75 jute mills operate and provide a livelihood to hundreds of thousands of workmen.

“It will support four million farm families in the jute sector. The decision will also help the jute sector in Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”

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Jute Year 2022-23 began on 1 July last year and will end on 30 June this year.

Each year, the Government of India buys around Rs90bn ($1.08bn) worth of jute sacking bags for foodgrain packaging, ensuring a market for jute farmers and workers.

Jute sacking bags account for 75% of the jute industry’s total production. Of this, 85% is supplied to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state procurement agencies, with the rest being exported or sold directly.

The Ministry of Textiles added: “The reservation norms would further the interest of domestic production of raw jute and jute packaging material in India, thereby, making India self-reliant in consonance with Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

“It will also help protect the environment because jute is a natural, biodegradable, renewable and reusable fibre and hence fulfils all sustainability parameters.”