The number of handlooms in Bangladesh has declined by more than a third in the last 15 years largely because of the sector’s push towards mechanisation and labour shortage.
Low profit margin, a lack of capital and problems related to marketing were blamed for the gradual decline in the number of handlooms.
In 2003, there were 183,512 handloom units but it fell 36.79 percent to 116,006 last year, according to the Handloom Census 2018, carried out by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
Saurendra Nath Chakrabhartty, secretary of the statistics and information management division, released the final report of the census at a programme at the BBS auditorium in Dhaka yesterday.
The BBS carried out the third countrywide census on handloom last year. The previous two censuses were conducted in 1990 and 2003.
According to the new census report, employment also fell: 888,115 people were employed in the sector in 2013 but it declined to 301,157 in 2018.
The number of female workers dropped by 55.78 percent to 176,270 and male workers by 44.27 percent to 140,045 during the period.
There are, however, significant numbers of women workers employed in the sector in the three hill districts: Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.
Chakrabhartty said the handloom industry has been a heritage of Bengal from the ancient period but now its popularity is declining.
Krishna Gayen, director general of the BBS; Gulnar Najmun Nahar, additional secretary of the textiles and jute ministry, and Md Zahidul Hoque Sardar, director of the census wing of the BBS, also spoke.
Mohiuddin Ahmed, project director of the handloom census, made a presentation on the final report of the census.