Pandemic Redemption: Recent sales spike for local weavers soothing missed Eid, Baishakh sales

The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring surprises, this time around in the form of booming sales for spinners, weavers and finishers who serve the local markets. 

The sale of yarn and fabrics witnessed a massive rise over the past one month as the invasion of cheaper ones from India has been stopped for the sealing of the borders with the neighbouring country.

Even smuggling of the yarn and fabrics by locals and Indians on buses, trains, ships and other modes of transport has come to a halt.

This is why sales have soared for local mills catering to the local markets.

The sale of yarn and fabrics used in making lungis, sarees, three-piece clothing for ladies, scarves and local bed sheets have increased manifold because of tighter security along the bordering areas with India.

As a result, the factories are humming with the constant running of machines and activities of workmen in this time of Covid-19, the millers said.

The local textile millers have been unable to make any of the usual annual sales reaching as much as Tk 20,000 crore centring Pahela Baishakh and Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations.

The second biggest annual sale worth some Tk 6,000 crore takes place for a lower grade of fabrics and textiles used in making clothing given out as zakat during Eid-ul-Fitr.

The millers had started facing financial troubles due to the suspension of production at the factories due to the fear of the spread of Covid-19.

The production in the factories was almost zero in April and May as the mills were kept shut.

"The yarn and fabrics sales reached its peak as the local manufacturers are coming back with work orders," said Mohd Khorshed Alam, chairman of Little Group which mainly produces yarn for fabrics of three-piece clothing for ladies.

Alam's Ashulia-based mill has been witnessing daily sales of 50-60 count yarn worth Tk 15 lakh whereas it was less than Tk 10 lakh a month ago.

Buyers from Narsingdi, Dohar, Araihazar, Pabna, Sirajganj, Madhabdi and Gopaldi are the main customers of the 50-60 count yarn.

Many small dyeing factories in Narayanganj and Narsingdi districts were in the brink of collapse due to the illegal import of Indian fabrics at cheaper rates, he said.

However, the buyers from the two districts are reopening their small units with hopes that there would be a rebound in their businesses with the rise in demand, he said.

He had a lot of old, unsold yarn and cotton in his mills. But all of it, worth nearly Tk 30 crore, has been sold out over the past one month because of the rising demand.

He said his arriving stocks of yarn and cotton were continuously being used up in his factory now because of the peak in sales.

The rise in demand also increased businesses of processing and finishing in textile mills across the country.

Despite investing crores of taka in their industries, most mills serving the domestic markets were in trouble in April and May.

The millers are saying that as sales have picked up, they would now be able to bear some of the losses incurred during Eid-ul-Fitr and Pahela Boishakh this year.

Usually, the sale of yarn and fabrics are low ahead of Eid-ul-Azha as people are mainly focused on the purchase of sacrificial animals.

"But this time it seems that the sales of Eid-ul-Fitr have started just now," said Abdullah Al Mamun, a director of Abed Textiles, a local spinning, dyeing, printing and weaving mill.

"It was our demand of many years to tighten security in the bordering areas so that the cheap yarn and fabrics do not enter Bangladesh to damage the local industry," Mamun told The Daily Star over the phone.

"The work orders for finishing in my mills increased manifold now compared to that last month," Mamun also said.

Monsoor Ahmed, secretary to Bangladesh Textile Millls Association (BTMA), said currently some 270 spinning mills are producing yarn for the local markets.

The number of weaving units across the country is more than 11,000, including cottage, small and medium ones. Some 500 weaving mills are members of the BTMA, he said.

The local suppliers have failed to make Tk 20,000 crore due to Covid-19 in April and May this year, said Ahmed.

Currently, there is no old stock of unsold yarn in the mills as the demand has risen, he said.

Around $8 billion-worth textile and yarn are sold locally every year while local garment businesses make more than $15 billion, the market insiders said.

Mohammad Ali Khokon, the BTMA president, said it was true that the sales have risen in the local mills but still it would not be possible to cover up the losses that the sector faced in April and May.

"I believe the sector would be more benefitted if the maintenance of the tight security along the bordering areas continues so that the illegal invasion of cheap Indian yarn and fabrics do not take place," he said. 



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