Jute: the golden fibre

In the current context of plastic pollution and environmental concerns, the West has taken an interest in the jute plant. Jute is a natural, hard-wearing, 100% biodegradable and recyclable fibre that can be used to make sacks, ropes, textiles and other products which we now make with plastic, but that could be manufactured ecologically using this fibre.

90% of global jute production comes from the Ganges Delta, the broad, fertile expanse of land between India and Bangladesh. Production of the fibre has a long-standing tradition there. Since the earliest days of industrialisation, thousands and thousands of workers have found employment and made a living through this industry. Unfortunately, though, their daily routine has scarcely changed in years (the jute mills operate almost exactly the same way as they did in the industrial revolution). The harsh conditions under which the prized "golden fibre" is extracted (so named both for its colour and the wealth it generates) have remained in place, and far from improving, have often continued to facilitate situations of abuse and exploitation. What is more, the wages paid are not enough to allow people to escape from poverty.

Political interference, lack of diversification, the age of the facilities and employment and human rights represent major challenges for the jute business. It is yet to be seen whether the global interest in the plant will prompt a better response to these issues, and lead to the emergence of initiatives around the industry to improve people's lives, or whether the logic of neoliberalism will instead once again tread them underfoot.

2-the golden thread

Film:The Golden Thread