Bangladesh Jute Research Institute

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Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) the oldest mono crop research institute of the country, located at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka. jute research first started in Dhaka with the creation of a fibre expert's position under the Department of Agriculture, and the assumption of responsibility by Sir RS Finlow in 1904. The BJRI in its present form and functions, developed from the first Jute Agricultural Research Laboratory (JARL) established by the Indian Central Jute Committee (ICJC) at Dhaka Farm in 1936.

The ICJC established the Jute Agricultural Research Laboratory (JARL) at Agricultural Research Station, Dhaka, and Jute Technological Research Laboratory (JTRL) at Tallyganj, Calcutta in 1936. The major research objectives of JARL, Dhaka, at that time were to bring improvement of the jute plant both in regard to quality and yield; to improve methods of jute growing; to reduce losses caused by diseases and insect pests, and to introduce improved methods of retting.

The Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) also started a Research Department of its own in 1937. This was later transformed into Indian Central Jute Mills Association Research Institute (ICJMARI). During 1936-47 the effective infrastructure required for broad-spectrum jute research activities was established. But due to the partition of India in 1947, jute research activities in Dhaka suffered a setback for many obvious reasons. It became imperative then to reorganise and start afresh.

Jute being the main source of foreign exchange earning of Pakistan, the role of jute in the national economy became more pronounced. The government of Pakistan constituted the Pakistan Central Jute Committee (PCJC) in the light of erstwhile ICJC. The PCJC reorganised the Jute Research Laboratory as the Jute Research Institute (JRI) at its present location in 1951.

In its original plan (1951), the JRI meant to have three main branches, namely: Agricultural Research on Jute; Technological Research on Jute; and Marketing and Economic Research on Jute. The JRI started functioning from 1951 only with the Agricultural Research on Jute branch. The second branch, Technological Research on Jute, was founded in 1963, but the branch for Marketing and Economic Research on jute has not yet been set up. Jute research during 1947-71 brought some important developments and released some high yielding varieties. After the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, the jute sector was taken up so that it could be given a realistic outlook.

The Jute Act, 1947 was promulgated and the institute was named as Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI). The Act set forth the following major objectives for BJRI: (a) to regulate, control and promote agricultural, technological and economic research on jute and allied fibres; (b) to organise production, testing and supply of improved pedigree jute seeds and their multiplication, procurement and distribution to recognized organisations, selected growers, and such other agencies as may be approved by the board; (c) to set up research centres, sub-stations, pilot projects and farms in different regions of the country for carrying out research on different problems of jute and allied fibre crops, jute products and allied materials; and (d) to establish project areas for demonstration of new varieties of jute development by the institute and to train farmers for cultivation of those varieties of jute.

Subsequently, in the light of the recommendations of the FAO/ADB appraisal report, and approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), a new branch for multiplication and distribution of HYV jute seeds was created in 1976. BJRI therefore, began functioning with the following branches from 1976: Directorate of Agricultural Research on Jute; Directorate of Technological Research on Jute; and Directorate of Jute Seeds.

In 1988, the Directorate of Jute Seed was transferred from BJRI to Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC). The BJRI has thus been left with two functional research wings. It may be mentioned here that the jute research activities originally started under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in 1904. During 1947-71 it continued to function under MOA as a division of the Central Government. In 1974, Jute Research Institute was first placed under the newly created Ministry of Jute, and then under the Science and Technology Ministry in 1980. Again, in 1982 BJRI was brought back to MOA. These shifts did not alter specific research objectives but definitely affected the progress of the institute when viewed from a broader perspective.

Fields of Research At present BJRI is conducting researches with two wings, one, Agricultural Research on Jute, and the other, Technological Research on Jute. As has been mentioned earlier, these two branches started functioning from 1951 and 1963 respectively, under two directors.

The Director General is the chief executive of the institute and is assisted by the two directors. The approved staff provision of BJRI at present is 516, of whom 166 are scientists and 350 are supporting personnel. The headquarters is located at Manik Miah Avenue, Dhaka and is comprised of the laboratories under different disciplines. The Gene Bank of BJRI serves as the germplasm depository for jute allied fibres; three greenhouses facilitate off-season research with simulation and partition of environments. The institute has one experimental mill for production of yarns and fabrics. Pilot facilities also exist for production of jute blankets, upholstery, draperies, finer union, and blended fabrics.

The agricultural research activities of BJRI are spread over different jute growing areas of the country. The Central Research Station is located at Manikganj, about 55 km northwest of the HQ. There are four regional stations at Faridpur, Rangpur, Kishoreganj and Chandina. Two sub-stations are located at Monirampur (Jessore) and Tarabo (Narayanganj). In addition to these stations, BJRI maintains four Farming System Research sites, and 8 subvention centres all over the jute growing areas of the country in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Extension and other organisations for dissemination, vilification and feedback.

Among the important achievements of the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute, mention may be made to the development of several improved varieties of jute, seed-based technology packages, improved retting practices, and some modifications in the use of jute fibres. [SM Humayun Kabir]