After reaching the bank on the other side of Padma River, our journey to Barisal still required about 3 hours more by car. However, I was really busy sightseeing. Along the way, I saw with my own eyes the Bangladesh jute industry at work.
Bangladesh is the top supplier of jute in the world. Jute (saluyot, in Philippines) is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which was once classified with the family Tiliaceae, more recently with Malvaceae, and has now been reclassified as belonging to the family Sparrmanniaceae. "Jute" is name of the plant or fiber that is used to make burlap, Hessian or gunny cloth.
First the people harvest the leaves of the plant for food. Then, they let the plant grow taller to get longer fiber. Once it reached the optimum height, they cut the stalks off from the bottom. They let these stalks rot in water for about 2 weeks to make the fibers soft and easy to separate. Next, they pound the the stalks to separate the bark/rind from the fibers. Then they dry the fibers under the sun. When the fibers are collected and are drying in the sun, the core of the stalk is dried for firewood. Nothing is wasted. This plant is like the coconut. Every part of it is useful.
With the Western world shunning the use of the unfriendly plastic bags, the need for environmentally friendly, bio-degradable, and cheapest natural fiber for the production of burlaps and bags are on the rise, which is good for the economy.
In the background, is the jute plant and the foreground are the cores of the stalks that will be used for firewood.
Leaving the stalks in water to rot.
Ladies separating the bark from the core. The bark is the jute fiber. They are doing this manually by the very narrow sidewalk of the main road. This would be the only truly dry spot.
More ladies working.
Every available space is used for drying.
Some are ready for manufacturing.
Tying the jutes for processing.
Getting ready for transfer to the factories.
The dried fibers are on the way.
I bought a jute carpet/rug on my first visit in 2008 and I love it. I didn't get anything this visit.
As you may have guessed by the inferior qualities of the images here, these are all taken as we were traversing the road to Barisal. While I was snapping, my in-laws were telling me what's happening with every shot I was taking. I was very fortunate to see it, it was something I never expected to experience.
OUR WORLD TUESDAY.