Bangabandhu Satellite’s body could have been made using jute: Dr. Mubarak Ahmad Khan

Publish: 10:39 PM, December 22, 2019 | Update: 10:39 PM, December 22, 2019

MD. ASRAFUL ISLAM: Dr. Mubarak Ahmad Khan is a Bangladeshi scientist who has been doing research since 1990, with the aim of creating and utilizing jute’s commercial uses and possibilities. According to the science-based research database, Scopus, he is considered to be the leading scientist in the study of jute worldwide. He is currently serving as the Chief Biological Advisor of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC). Among his notable many discoveries are sonali bag, jutin, helmets and tiles of which all are made from jute.

In an exclusive interview with The Bangladesh Today, Dr. Mubarak talks about the prospects of jute and its uses.

TBT: What products can be made with jute? How durable and useful do you think the products will be?
Dr. Mubarak Ahmad: Before talking about what products can be made with jute, we first need to know what jute is. Jute was once a glorious tradition of Bangladesh. But with a heavy heart I have to say that we do not study with jute. There is no department in the University for studying jute. In the past we had a conceptual idea regarding jute that it is only used for making bags, sackcloth and sacks. Later jute carpets were once in demand all over the world. But that too faded away while competing against syntec. Now around 300/350 products are being made using jute. The product list is available at DCP in Bangladesh. But these products are handicrafts. We are working with the parts of the jute that can be used.

Jute has three qualitative parts, the basic part, one is cellulose and one is ligviton. These three things are very expensive. What we first thought was jute, jute bags that have jute carpet and why not jute carpet jute fast color. If it is in water, it can smell bad. Then the jute resilience decreases. It sits on the carpet for a while, and doesn’t bounce back. Its scientific name is resilience. Because of these reason it did not business. When I came home from abroad I started working on how to improvise all these properties. After improving I held a meeting with a mill named Bengal Carpet in Nayarhat. But later they closed the mill and didn’t want to take the risk. Everyone in our country runs behind a trade. They don’t want to waste money in research for any new discoveries. That’s why we are still lagging behind.

In 1998 I went to Germany on invitation from a German Professor. There they made plastic composite by mixing plastic with your jute. That was the main theme in my PhD thesis. My idea is if they can make composites by mixing plastics so why can’t I make composite with my jute. I went to Germany in 1998 and mixed jute directly with a stator machine and made a polymer grain. After making it, we gave the trial in Germany. Later I started working make a lot of things out of it. And the work spread quickly.

Later I came to back to Bangladesh and started working here. I started wonder what products can be made using jute. Then I realized that great there is a great demand for corrugated sheets in the country so I tried to make it. Then I made it and tested if by jumping on it to see if it breaks or not. But it is so so strong that it does not break.

TBT: You said that the products made jute gets a bit soft when touched with water. How sustainable do you think these products will be?
Dr. Mubarak Ahmad: I have to do a lot of work on this, it is stronger than steel. There is no possibility of water entering it. On a hot day corrugated sheets gets hot, but these will stay cool.

TBT: Will the prices of these products be reasonable?
Dr. Mubarak Ahmad: No, it will be more than a corrugated sheet.

TBT: Is it possible to make this polymer in our country?
Dr. Mubarak Ahmad: It is possible if industrial factories are established in the country. If India, China, Thailand are able to do this so why can’t we? Like them, we also have the ability.

TBT: Can the jute production in Bangladesh fulfill your needs for making jute related products?
Dr. Mubarak Ahmad: Yes of course and jute can be exported outside the country depending on the demand of the country. If the demand for jute is increased, the farmers will get a fair price and the farmers will cultivate and produce more jute.

TBT: What steps do you think should be taken to implement this industry?
Dr. Mubarak Ahmad: The products that have been made have to be industrialized. And these are the initiatives I think the government should take first. The idea of this new product is not very popular among the people of our country. They do not want to invest in new products. So for this industry, the government has to take the role first and change people’s ideas about jute. Today our Bangabandhu Satellite has been built, and everyone will be amazed to know that the body could have been made with jute. Maybe no one will believe but it’s true. n