The first power driven mill for spinning jute yarn in our country was erected by a Mr. George Acland in 1855 at Rishra on the bank of River Hoogly about twelve miles from Calcutta. At first it consisted of only 48 spindles but was increased soon afterwards to give an output of 8 tons per day. Later on weaving machinery was added but the first power loom factory that was established at Baranagore near Calcutta in 1859 by the Borneo Company. It consisted of 192 looms with the necessary preparing and spinning machinery and it is interesting to note that even at that early date, this company obtained the services of an expert chemist to advise then on suitable batching medium.

Expansion was slow to begin with but twenty years later there were four thousand five hundred looms at work on the banks of the Hooghly. Period of prosparity were followed by rapid increase in the number of mills and the amount of machinery with which the production capacity outstripped the consumption and depression followed loom. It was these circumstances which led to the foundation of the body known as Indian Jute Mills Association.

Today Jute Industry is one of the major industry in our country employing about four million persons and it earns about Rs. 250 crores by way of foreign exchange through exports.

Some of the dates relating to the production of jute goods are as follows :-

Production of Jute Goods by IJMA MILLS
(.000’ Metric Tons)

July-June Hessian Sacking Carpot Cotton others Total

1961-62 4, 14.4 5, 08.5 32.3 45.1 68.8 10, 69.0

1962-63 5, 14.9 5, 31.8 64.8 41.3 65.4 12, 18.2

1963-64 5, 33.8 4, 95.5 95.5 49.0 75.3 12, 49.1

1964-65 5, 26.6 5, 74.3 97.1 49.8 72.5 13, 20.3

1965-66 4, 88.2 5, 47.7 93.9 35.7 61.2 12, 26.7

Total Loom – Strength All India

Installed as on Hessian Sacking Others Total
1.1.60 43, 823 25, 221 3, 081 72, 125

1.1.62 43, 322 25, 722 3, 776 72, 916

1.1.64 43, 570 25, 491 5, 097 74, 294

1.1.66 44, 105 24, 950 6, 066 75, 265


Jute is the best or stem fibre obtain from two cultivated species, Corchorus capsularis and Corchorus Cliterius. The former is known as white jute and the latter Tossa and Desie. The bast fibre of Hibiscus Saodariffaver – Altissimo, and Hibiscus cannabinus grown in this country as a substitute of jute is commonly called mesta. In Andhra Pradesh, where jute is not grown as Kanaf. Jute plant which at full growth may be of a height between six and twelve feet, the main stem, which is round and smooth, being about half an inch in diameter. Jute is grown mainly in Bengal and upper Orissa and the reason why it thrives in these places can be attributed to the peculiarities of the soil, which is alluvial in character, and to the warm humid condition. Jute is generally grown in alluvial soils, but it can be grown in other types of soils from clay to sandy loam. Best quality fibre, however can be produced in loamy soils. It is a rain fed crop sown with pre-monsoon shower and grow during the mansoon season, but growth is impeded if there is standing water in the field. Clitorius plants die if there is standing water when the plants are young. Climatic conditions suitable for the growth of Jute plants are (a) temperature roundabout 16*C, (b) rainfall from 100 cm to 200cm. (c) humidity from 65% to 95%.

Jute can also be grown in other countries and the Jute growing areas of the world and their acreage with production in 1964 – 65 are given below :-

One Hectre = 2.47 acres.

Countries Acreage in Production in Production per
1000 hectore 1000 metric tons. 1000 acres

India Jute 839 1084 520
Mesta 369 286 312
Pakistan Jute 672 967 584

Countries Acreage in Production in Production per
1000 hectre 1000 metric tons. 1000 acres

Brazil Jute 42 51 476
Formosa Jute 7 13 745
Burma Jute 17 10 238
Nepal Jute 32 39 494
Thailand Jute 7 8 457

The principal constituents of Jute Fibre are Alpha cellulose (60%). Hemi-cellulose (25% approx.), Lignine (11% approx.). In addition it contains 1% or less fat, wax and also equal amount of nitrogeneous matter and mineral matters. Its ignition temperature is 193*C and specific heat is 0.324.

Jute increase in volume rapidly with absorption of water, being 45% in 30 hours. Its rate of absorption is 5% per hour. Jute decomposes rapidly in long contact with water, releasing methane. As the reaction is exothermic, considerable heat is generated. If the moisture content of jute is more than 17%, the fibre is susceptible to bacterial damage, commonly known as “heart damage of jute”.


There are different varieties of jute commonly met with which are as follows :

(a) Indian Jute Top, Middle, Bottom,
(white, Tossa, Mesta) B. Bottom, X Bottom, Cuttings

(b) Bimli F.A.Q., and A.Q.

(c) Bangladesh Dundee Red
(white & Mesta) Dundee First
Dandee Lighting
Dandee Hearts
Mill Red
Mill First
Mill Lighting
Mill Hearts

Tossa Dundee Tossa 2/3
Output Tossa 2/3
Output Tossa 4


It is something like kenaf or Hemp. It is more brittle and harder than jute and is used as a substitute to jute.

Jute fibres are also classified in the industry according to the quality which depends on strength length, colour, gloss and fineness. The best quality jute fibres are having all the good qualities such as fine, soft, glossy and light in colour. Fibres which are not totally free from gummy substances and bark particules in the form of specks are ranked amongst the inferior qualities. Poor quality jute is low in tensile strength and dull in appearance. Jute yarn may be classified as follows :

(1) Hessian Warp
(2) Hessian Weft
(3) Sacking Warp
(4) Sacking Weft

Hessian Warp is the yarn obtained from the better qualities of jute, which as stated above are strong, long in fibre, and of a glossy light colour.

Hessian weft is yarn made from Jute slightly inferior to that of hessian warp in respect of the length of the fibre and colour, but similar to it in other respects. This yarn as the name implies, is used for weft in hessian cloth.

Sacking-warp is a yarn obtained from a coarse but strong and long quality of Jute having no distinctive colouring. This warp is used for weaving cloth suitable for bags, sacks, etc.

Sacking weft is yarn for bugs etc. made from jute poorer in quality than that used for sacking warp; in fact, the lowest grades such as rejections and cuttings, are used to make this yarn. Rejections constitute a class of jute which is damaged, brakey and knotty and can only be utilized for making coarse yarn. Cuttings are the barky and hard portions of all grades of jute cut off from either end of the fibres and cannot be made into any higher class of yarn.


There are two sowing periods. The first sowing normally in the month of March and the second a month or so later. Harvesting starts in July and continues upto November.

Retting is the process of steeping the entire green plants in water, when due to action of micro organisms. The non fibres tissue excepting wood tissue of the plants and the pactionous materials binding the fibres decompose and loosen the fibres. The effect of retting is to ferment the outer husk so that the fibre between the pith stem and the outer husk can be easily removed. This method of extracting fibres from the jute plants is followed in India and Bangladesh, where plenty of retting water is available. In other countries extraction of fibres is done mechanically or by extraction of firbre ribbons and then retting in smaller volume of water to remove pactinous material and remaining tissues. In the latter process there is loss of fibre.

In the retting method followed in our country and Bangladesh, Jute plants after harvest are first laid in the field for 3 to 4 days, generally in bundles for the leaves to shed. Then they are taken in bundles to nearby pools or ditches and immersed in water. Time of retting depends on the temperature and vary normally from 2 to 3 weeks. When retting is completed, the bundles are taken out of water one by one and collectively from a bunch of plants, dried and bundled for storage before sale.

In steeping plants, in the pools or tanks, the bundles are laid horizontally in water side by side, with one layer over another in the form of stacks, until they sink partially under their own weight. The top layer is then covered with weeds, bricks or stones. If weighed down with clods of earth or banana stumps, the fibre takes dark hue.

For uniform retting over the entire length of the plant, the best practice is to immerse the bottom of the plants first vertically for 3 to 4 days and then lay them horizontally.


The major portion of the marketable surplus of jute is sold be the growers through a chain of middle man between the growers and the manufacturing mills, with the dealer forming the first link. In the primary markets, the growers and the small dealers are the sellers; the representatives of Kutcha baler constitute mainly the buyers. In the secondary markets where kutcha balers and merchants operate, the jute is assorted and graded in accordance with the commercial standards. The mills buy their jute through brokers, who act as intermediaries between the local sellers and the mills. Standard forms of contract are used in these transactions. Some mills have their own agencies in the up-country baling centres where jute is baled and dispatched to the principals. Purchases are also made by the mills in the terminal markets in Calcutta, prices being fixed after the spot inspection. Now jute Corporation of India is also engaged in buying huge amount of jutes in order to safeguard the interest of the growers.

The dried jute fibre is brought into the various up county buying centres mainly by trucks and by rail. Also jute is transported by river. Whilst in transit by water, fires are not uncommon. There is little doubt that smoking, cooking, the use of kerosene lamps or naked lights on board the carrying vessels are, though definitely prohibited by the carrying companies, responsible for a great number of these fires. The danger of fire is a very real one, particularly in the case of country boats, many of which, in addition to the fact that the cargo itself is highly inflammable are covered in with a matting and bamboo superstructure.


Jute risks can be distinctly divided into two classes, the assorting and pressing premises and the jute mill. The risks where assorting and pressing of jute is carried out is known as jute press. Apart from assorting and pressing, jutes are stored in the godowns in the premises of jute press.

Jute assorting and pressing premises can also be subdivided into two classes; that in which pressing is done by means of hand press, and that in which pressing is done by power operated machine. Hand pressed bales are known as kutcha bales and power pressed bales as pucca bales. Kutcha bale of jute is a bale of jute normally of 60,130, 150 or 160 kilo bales are deemed to be “bales” for the purpose of rating Kutcha bales occupy a volume of 13 ½ cubic feet. Pucca bale of jute is a bale weighing 180 kilogarams compressed by hydraulically operated press, measuring 10 ½ cubic feet.

The pucca bales are produced in the press mainly for exports. These are at present only a small number of presses in operation. Pucca bales are hardly seen in the Jute mill godowns now a days. The processes carried out in Jute press are simple, consisting of weighing. Hackling, assorting and of course baling. The hackles used for hackling or combing consist of a series of metal spikes about 9 inches in height, set in a heavy wooden base. The hackles lies on the floor and the operator holding the jute, usually a drouble handful, at the end, swings the strands over his shoulder bringing these down, though with no great force, on the hackle, thus combing out the jute. The barky or hard portions at either end of the jute are cut off portions are cuttings. Assorting means selecting or sorting according to the quality of fibre. Next, jute is pressed either by hand press or by power driven hydraulic press.


Construction of assorting and pressing premises situated in Calcutta are much superior to that located in up-country. There are many similar risks located in up-country which are constructed of lath and mud plaster, or matting or corrugated iron on timber or bamboo frame work with tiled or iron roofs. There are also numerous risks in different ownership being closely contiguous to each other. Risks situated in and around Calcutta are mostly having brick-walls and corrugated iron/asbestos roofs. Layout as a rule is also quite good, due very largely to tariff conditions, which, as in the case of risks of up-country, impose penalties if storage godowns are not at a certain prescribed distance from the assorting shed or press house. Storage godowns are usually shed built, while assorting and selecting is carried out in almost every case on the upper floor of a two storeyed building, the ground floor being used for the storage of jute in kutcha and/or pucca bales. The intermediate floors are all made of wood. Engine and boiler house generally adjoin the press building.

A few risks are protected by hydrant and automatic sprinkler installations. But due to bad maintenance, only few risks are entitled for discount in respect of automatic sprinkler installation. Otherwise, most of the risks are protected by only hand appliances i.e. buckets and fire extinguishers.


Jute is highly combustible, especially in loose form; if gives off a considerable amount of fly and dust during handling. These materials being very light, are carried by air and deposited on structural frame work. They also settle on the floor. Even a very small source of ignition can create a fire because of hazardous nature of the fibres.

Fires in jute press premises usually take place in the assorting sections of the godowns and sometimes in the pucca bale godowns. But incidence of fires are much loss in press house itself, as compared to godowns. Poor housekeeping in jute press premises are also one of the main factors for fire losses. Poor housekeeping arise mostly due to plurality of tenure which is very common. As most of the presses are not in operation, the godowns belonging to the press premises are occupied by a large number of tenants. These tenants store various materials in the godowns and they do not bother to maintain cleanliness in the premises. Sometimes, jute as also other materials, are stored outside the godowns in the open. Because of the fluffy nature of the jute fibre, fire spreads very quickly along the surface of the jute bales. It has also a tendency to burrow inside the bales to a certain depth and smoulder for a long period.

Fire losses of the property belonging to the jute press and godowns as paid by the Insurance Company’s during the period from 1975 to 1977 are given below :

Year Loss in Rupees

1975 57, 76, 714
1976 11, 42, 982
1977 75, 72, 692

Also the loss ratio in respect of jute press and godowns are 108%, 22.4% and 190-8% during the year 1975, 1976 and 1977 respectively. It is also to be pointed out here that loss experience was never good in this class of risk. The underwriters are aware of the bad loss experience as also the hazards, and that is why a number of warranties are in force in order to prevent large fire losses. One warranty restricts, the storage of jute to certain specified quantity in a particular godown. However, if the quantity of jute stored in a particular godown exceeds the quantity specified, insurance cover for such godowns are accepted at a much higher rate of premium. Also according to another warranty, the building must not be situated within 22.50 metres from a class III building (inferior construction) used for pressing or assorting or storage of jute.

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