Salt Industry

Salt Industry an industry for producing salt from saline water of the sea in the coastal areas of Bangladesh specially in Chittagong and Cox's bazar areas. Salt is produced seasonally from December to mid-May. Recently salt cultivation has also begun in the coastal belts of Khulna and Satkhira.

Traditionally, salt was manufactured by vaporizing seawater by fire heat or sunlight. From 2000-2001 salt was produced in a different way known popularly called polythene process, in which salt production per acre is much higher than old method. In traditional method, per acre production of was 17.25 m ton, while in the new method per acre production of salt has been 21 m ton. and furthermore, production per acre and the quality of salt has been very standard. Moreover the market price of this salt produced in new method is double.'

History of salt production Salt production is an ancient industry begun in the coastal zones of Bangladesh. This industry was developed by people traditionally specialized in it and was known as Mulunghee. They used to produce salt by evaporating water by boiling the saltwater. The salt production field has been known as Tofol. During the Mughal period, this sub-sector was administered by two government departments known as Jaigir Mahal and Nimak Ewaz Mahal. There were nearly 39 salt processing and production centres under the three chaklas like Nizampur, Jugdia and Baharchhara. In the 16th century, the salt manufacturing was a source of income for the government. The government had a monopoly control over salt production and trading. The salt traders used to make advances called dadni to salt producers. The salt industry got a new direction when the east india company acquired chittagong in 1760 as one of the three ceded districts from the Nawab. The company made Chittagong a major source of income for itself by monopolising salt production in Chittagong. The mulunghees, who were independent producers before, were now reduced to salt labourers. Salt production as a monopoly of the government continued. After 1947, the salt sector was revitalised, but imposition of heavy custom duty and tax on salt industries in order to give advantage to salt imported from West Pakistan became again a barrier to its normal growth.

Role of BSCIC in Salt Production East Pakistan Small and Cottage Industries Corporation was established in 1957. From its inception, it began salt production with its own manpower since 1960. According to a survey conducted by BSCIC in 1964 there were 16,541 salt growing units over 11,769 acres of land across the coastline of Chittagong, Noakhali, Barisal and Khulna. Annual production of those units engaged 50854 workers' generating an annual income of 20 million taka. In 1990, BSCIC with an estimated cost of 377 million taka took up a project named Special Product Development Programme. It included three components of which salt production was one. There was also an allocation of 118.9 million taka for the development of salt sub-project, which aimed at' achieving' self-sufficiency in salt production, (b) improving quality of salt, and to extend technical knowledge of salt production. The project was implemented between1990 and June 2000 and continued as a revised project from 1990 to 2005.

In 2006-2007 the project was included in the revenue budget with its centres at 7 thanas of Cox's bazar district: Cox's Bazar Sadar, Chokoria, Pekua, Kutubdia, Teknaf, Maheshkhali, Ramu and Banshkhali thana of Chittagong district. The centres are: Uttar Nolvilla, Gorokgata, Matarbari, Gomatoli, Choufaldandi, Darbeshkata, Dulhazara, Fulchhari, Purba Borogona, Sorol and Teknaf.

Financial year Year wise demand Production target (in m ton) Actual production (in m ton) Imported (in m ton) Total cultivated land (acres) Number of salt cultivators
2000-2001 8.91 9.00 9.91 - 51541 37293
2001-2002 8.82 9.00 7.75 - 54717 36638
2002-2003 9.00 9.20 8.10 1.00 58653 38328
2003-2004 11.44 9.50 9.70 1.00 61502 40595
2004-2005 11.44 11.50 7.82 1.00 63655 42000
2005-2006 11.44 12.00 15.75 1.53 70050 44574
2006-2007 11.44 13.00 10.65 - 70754 45000
2007-2008 12.65 13.00 12.22 - 68101 43627
2008-2009 12.98 13.20 13.72 - 71190 47460
2009-2010 13.33 13.50 17.07 - 67757 43553

Under this programme, salt production, market price and information collection including movement, imparting training to salt farmers and research works were done. There are 4 production cum display centres at Lemoshikhali, Choufaldandqi, Matarbari and Baldarchar. The programme plays an important role to keep the price of salt stable and ensures supply as per demand. At present 43,553 cultivators are engaged in 67,751 acres of land in Cox's Bazar and Chittagong district to produce salt in solar method. Salt is contributing about 120 million taka in the national economy every year. One to 1.5 million people of coastal belt is depend economically and socially on salt cultivation. Production of salt in solar method depends completely on nature. If the climate is conducive the production target can be achieved. In 2009-10, salt production was 1.7 metric tones against the target of 1.33 tones.

With the increase of population, cattle heads, and growers of industries, the demand of salt is also rising. To meet the growing demand of salt and to achieve self-sufficiency in salt production, BSCIC has extended its salt production areas to Khulna and Satkhira through a new project costing over 13 million taka. Under the project, four experimental salt training and production centres were established in Madinabad in Kaira upazila of Khulna district, Bet Kashi of Dakop upazila, and Burigoalini of Shyamnagar upazila, and Pratabnagar of Ashasuni Upazila of Satkhira district. Later during the period 1992-2002, the second phase of the 19 million taka project was implemented. The implementation of the third phase concluded in 2009 at a cost of over 28 million taka.

Iodised Salt The project named as Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorder was taken as a pilot project on 1989 to eradicate the iodine deficiency. The government enacted a law on 11 December 1994 to prevent iodine deficiency diseases. Under this Act, from 31 June 1995 onward fortification of all edible salt with iodine made compulsory and storage and marketing of non-iodine salt were prohibited. With cooperation of UNICEF, 267 iodised salt plants were set up and each of the factory was provided with an iodine mixture machine free of cost. [Masood Reza]