Pandemic pushes Pabna weavers into distress

Published : 28 Apr 2021 09:20 PM

Weavers in Pabna and Sirajganj districts are spending idle times before Eid this year. Usually a busy industry which spends busy time ahead of Eid weaving clothes in loom are now seem jobless due to COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of weavers in the region now wait for work order to thrive again.

After visiting severel upazilas, correspondent found out that many weavers in the area have lost their capital during Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in last year. Most of them tried to restart their business before Eid as they get most of the orders in this time. However, as lockdown was imposed, almost all of them did not get any work orders.

Locals said that wholesale retailers usually come at markets of Pabna and Sirajganj before eid to buy handwoven clothes in bulk price. But as lockdown was imposed, buyers could not come to the markets. Thus, tonnes of clothes are still unsold and the situation is gradually getting worse.

Retailer Rahmat Ali from Shahajadpur said that buyers every week bought 500-800 pieces of clothes from his shop before Covid-19 pandemic. But due to lack of transportation, not a single buyer could rich markets. Weavers in the area are getting worried as many of them took loans to produce clothes. Now they all wait for potential buyers.

Bangladesh Specialized Textile Mills and Powerloom Industries Association (BSTMPIA) Director Haidar Ali said that during normal condition, more than Tk 200 crores of clothes were sold in markets of Shahjadpur. But half of the clothes were unsold in 2020. This year will probably face the same situation. To make condition worse, transportation was also unavailable this year due to nationwide lockdown. Thus weavers in the area face a devastating blow. 

Most of the weavers in the area have unsold clothes stored in their house from previous year. Despite that, many took loans again to produce clothes, he added.

Loom mill owner Al Amin from Shahjadpur upazila said that his factory was facing losses from last year. He has 30 looms in his factory. He took loan from the bank to produce clothes ahead of Eid. But government imposed lockdown 1 week after he took the loan from bank. Now he fears that he could face serious financial crisis this year.

Loom businessperson Md Atik said that only 8 looms out of 20 are running in his factory. Almost half of the clothes from previous year are unsold. He and others in the area started production ahead of Eid but they are not sure if they could sell the clothes this time.

Loomers in the area are facing major crisis. Most of them are jobless due to pandemic and lockdown. The festive mood in the areas of loom mills could not be seen as many fear for the upcoming financial crisis they have to handle.

Weaver Abdul Jalil from Siranjganj said that Eid season is considered as the most profitable season as they get most of the work order in that time of the year. But production this year is drastically lower than previous year. Before the pandemic, they earned Tk 1000-1200 daily by weaving 10-12 clothes per day. But now they can’t even earn 500 tk per day. If things get worse, they have to leave this profession.

Loom owner association stated that more than 6 lakh looms were active in Pabna and Sirajganj districts. Approximately four lakhs of looms were shut down during pandemic. Most of the distressed weaver already lost their capital.

Bangladesh Loom Board Deputy-General Director Ratan Chandra Saha said that authorities help out the marginal weavers across the country. Due to Covid-19, a major crisis has hit the industry. He hopes that government soon will take actions to help the weavers in the region.