Tangail weaving industry in crisis as weavers quit job for price hike of raw materials | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 07, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 07, 2008

Tangail weaving industry in crisis as weavers quit job for price hike of raw materials

Handlooms reduced to 50,000 from 1 lakh in 15 years

Price hike of yarn, dye and other weaving materials are forcing many weavers in Tangail to leave their profession, showing a sign of gradual disaster in the traditional weaving industries in Tangail.
Back in 1992, there were over 1 lakh handlooms and 1,50000 weavers in the district including Sadar, Kalihati, Nagarpur and Basail upazilas.
Over 50,000 handlooms in the district were closed during the last several years due to high prices of these materials, especially yarn and dye, said Mufakkhharul Islam, vice-president of Tangail Central Cooperative Artisans Society Ltd, also president of Kalihati Upazila Handloom Owners Association.
About 20,000 handlooms of the existing factories in Tangail are inoperative at present due to the same reasons, he said.
“Twenty out of 40 handlooms of my factory at Balla in Kalihati have remained shut due to the same reasons,” he added.
According to officials of Tangail Sadar and Kalihati Basic Centres of Bangladesh Tant Board, there are 37,222 handlooms in 10,000 small and big handloom factories and over 70,000 weavers including handloom owners are working under the Basic Centres in several upazilas in the district.
Of those, 18,573 handlooms in 3,000 factories are at Balla, Rampur, Mominnagar, Darikhashila, Kukrail, Kazibari, Kamanna, Singair and Behalabari villages under Balla union at Kalihati upazila where about 20,000 weavers including handloom owners are working.
The weavers at Balla produce famous Tangail sarees including Benarasi and Jamdani and merchants across the country purchase it, especially at several regular weekly markets including those at Karatia and Bazidpur in Tangail.
Weaver Yousuf Ali of Balla in Kalihati upazila, who became popular in Tangail between 1976 and 1990 with his "Good Luck" brand sarees, was forced to shut down his business in 1991 as prices of cloths including sarees did not increase in proportion with the price of yarn, dye and other materials that are needed to produce the sarees.
Many weavers at different villages in Kalihati upazila told The Daily Star that they were considering closing their business, as it is no longer profitable enough to sustain. Most of the looms in the region would be closed within a few years if this situation prevails for long, they said.
The prices of a bale of yarn saw an increase of over Tk 10,000 in one and a half years, yarn traders said. The price of a bale of Gulshan-82 yarn was Tk 54,000 one and half years ago but now it is Tk 65,000. A bale of Nahid-74 increased by Tk 14,000, Nahid-82 by Tk 12,000, Delta-82 by Tk 14,000, Setu-82 by Tk 15,000, and Saiham-82 by Tk 13,000 in just one and a half years.
Several weavers of Balla at Kalihati upazila told The Daily Star correspondent that an organised syndicate of merchants is responsible for the increase in the price of yarn, dye and other materials. The price of cotton did not increase that much during the last one year and a half but opportunist yarn merchants stockpiled yarn and increased its prices, weavers claimed.
Admitting the presence of a yarn-merchant syndicate, Mostofa Ashrafi, president of Yarn Traders Association of Balla, said earlier they could import yarn from India but now they cannot and this has also played a role behind the increase of yarn prices.
The government should allow import of yarn from outside the country to save the weaving industry, he said.
Weaver Jinnat Ali, 60, president of Balla Ward No 2 Weavers Association, also member of Balla union parishad, said he was forced to shut 35 of the 55 handlooms of his factory at Rampur village due to unusual price hike of weaving materials including yarn and dye.
About 45 per cent handlooms of Balla remained closed at present due to the same reason, he said.
Wazed Ali, 40, of Rampur village told The Daily Star that over 10,000 handlooms including his six handlooms of Kalihati upazila including Balla-Rampur were damaged during the recent flood but the affected weavers did not get any financial help from the government or any other organisations so far.
After the floods, the weavers repaired their handlooms and factories by borrowing money from different moneylenders and NGOs, he said.
Admitting the recent hardship of the weavers of Balla Rampur under Kalihati upazila, Mohammad Asaduzzaman, field supervisor of Kalihati Basic Centre, said the government should give special subsidy for weaving materials including yarn and dye to save the weaving industries in the region.
When contacted, Samedur Rahman, liaison officer of Tangail Sadar Basic Center of Bangladesh Tant Board, said the handlooms industries in Tangail have been facing threat due to manifold problems including recent abnormal price hike of weaving materials including yarn and dye.
The government can help to solve the problem by taking initiative for marketing the sharis produced by Tangail weavers, he added.

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