Government drafts charcoal policy to tap export potential

Jasim Uddin | Published: 23:41, Feb 14,2021


A file photo shows farmers separating jute fibre from jute-stalks after rotting jute plants in a water body on the outskirts of Dhaka. The government has drafted a policy on charcoal to tap the export potential of the non-traditional item and the efficient use of jute-stalks. — New Age photo

The government has drafted a policy on charcoal to tap the export potential of the non-traditional item and the efficient use of jute-stalks.

The textiles and jute ministry has framed the draft Charcoal Policy-2021 aiming to promote the establishment of sustainable and international standard charcoal industry in the country and expedite the production and export of the product.

A technical committee of the Department of Jute is now reviewing the draft.

Charcoal is one kind of coal that is produced from jute-stalks and used in water purification and raw materials for manufacturing fireworks, anti-toxin tablet, beauty products and inks for photocopiers and computers.

The oil extracted from charcoal is also used in producing tar and bitumen.

The rate of carbon in charcoal is 70 per cent and there is a huge potential of export of the product.

Currently, there are some 15 charcoal factories in Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Faridpur, Madaripur, Pabna, Magura, Jashore and Rajbari and the factories export more than 800 tonnes of charcoal each month and earn Tk 60 crore.

According to the draft policy, the country produces around 30 lakh tonnes of jute-stalks each year.

The country can produce charcoal worth Tk 2,500 crore each year using half of the jute-stalks and the country can earn $312 million per annum exporting the product, it said.

Expansion and necessary policy support can also create additional employment in the sector, it added.

As charcoal is an organic raw material with very low level of carbon, the sector can be considered as environment-friendly industry and entrepreneurs will get required incentives, including bank loan, to expand the sector.

The policy also recommended considering the sector a priority one and the related agencies, including the National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority will take necessary measures to provide investment incentives to entrepreneurs.

The framing of the policy is very important to provide necessary support to manufacturers and businesses, promote the industry and make the sector competitive on the international market, the draft said.

The policy will also create a ground for framing charcoal act and other rules and regulations, it said.

As per the draft policy, foreign investors in the sector would have the scope for taking loans as working capital from local banks and to be enlisted on the primary and secondary stock markets.

The policy will also declare the charcoal as not dangerous goods if those are produced and cooled as per the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code.

The sector will also be recognised as carbon industry, the policy said proposing setting up a charcoal export and research centre.

Officials said that the technical committee was now reviewing the draft policy and taking opinions from stakeholders to finalise it.

The DoJ technical committee held its first meeting on February 2.

At the meeting, the Bangladesh Charcoal Manufacturers and Exporters Association proposed adding coconut coir, bamboo, sugarcane coir and palm tree as raw materials for producing charcoal, in addition to jute-stalks.

It also proposed excluding the product from the red category of the Department of Environment as the product is an environment-friendly one.

DoJ director general Hossain Ali Khondoker on Sunday told New Age that the product had a huge potential on the export market as an environment-friendly product.

Bangladesh also produces sufficient raw materials, including jute-stalks, he said.

The committee will soon finalise the policy after holding another meeting and accommodating recommendations to be received from the stakeholders and send it to the ministry.

The committee is now working to make the policy comprehensive one so that the comparatively new sector can get all-out support, he said.

It will also include other items as raw materials for producing charcoal, he said.

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