Ceylon Handlooms flying high with SriLankan Business Class

Saturday, 30 June 2012 01:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka’s revamped handlooms sector, Ceylon Handlooms, has received a new impetus. SriLankan Airlines, the country’s national carrier, has actively begun to use them in its plush passenger cabins.

“Our $ 13 m Ceylon Handlooms have made inroads to provide comforts of premium international passengers. SriLankan Airlines’ wise choice is a good example of the quality of our handlooms. Having identified regional level handloom production needs, we are now forging ahead with our new handlooms taskforce to identify suitable Private-Public Partnership models to move the sector forward,” announced Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.

Minister Bathiudeen announced this on 28 June in the aftermath of the progress review meeting of the National Level Task Force (NLTF) at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo. The NLTF was formed on December 22 by Minister Bathiudeen to revamp Sri Lanka’s handloom sector which started work on 10 January by sketching sector’s future roadmap.

Minister Bathiudeen called the latest 28 June meeting to review the progress hitherto achieved by the NLTF. Among those present were reps from the Provincial Councils, National Entrepreneurs Development Authority (NEDA), University of Moratuwa, Export Development Board, Department of Textiles, Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel, industry experts and reps from private sector handloom manufacturers.

Lankan handlooms, in addition to the domestic market, are absorbed by Italy, Maldives, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Thailand, Netherlands and Norway. According to the Exports Development Board (EDB) under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the handloom exports valued $ 0.90 m in 2009 rose in 2010 to $ 1.5 m and in January-October 2011, stood at $ 1.17 m. EDB expects the handloom exports to hit $ 2.24 m in 2015.  The tradition of Lankan handloom weaving has been brought down from generation to generation and Sri Lankan weavers succeeded in creating a distinct identity of their own by transforming the traditional woven patterns and colour schemes into the beautiful textile designs. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce estimates the Ceylon Handlooms sector to be around $ 13 m, annually. However, strong demand and limited supply has pushed Ceylon Handloom output to the premium grade-both in the domestic and international markets.

“Under our new initiative to support the sector, the National Entrepreneurs Development Authority (NEDA), EDB, Textile Department all of which are under my Ministry will lend support to build production, business and marketing capacity to this sector so that more private sector resources are enlisted to boost it. From today we are also directly enlisting Provincial Councils in our efforts,” Minister Bathiudeen revealed.

“We are looking at a complete buyback system and also to give better pay for the weavers of this premium product which has the coveted geographical indicators potential if positioned well,” he revealed.

After the review meet, Minister Bathiudeen also inspected a sample of Ceylon Handlooms produced by Kandygs Handlooms Ltd. for the SriLankan Airlines Business Class. “The 100% cotton handlooms are supplied by our firm to SriLankan Airlines to be used in no less than their plush Business Class. Produced by hand-woven methods, we make them using high quality yarn from Pakistan,” revealed Anuradha Yahampath, Design Director of Kandygs Handlooms.

Her Kandygs operates a large factory with 200 handlooms, 30 power looms, 50 sewing machines and a fully-equipped dye house and exports to many countries including Japan, Germany, Greece, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Mexico and Maldives. Kandygs has also been representing Sri Lanka in many international trade fairs such as Heimtextil Frankfurt, Ambiante Frankfurt, and fairs in Sweden, Switzerland and Tokyo.

“As private sector handloom producers, we are also thankful to the Government and Minister Bathiudeen for facilitating import of yarn for our manufacturing at a time when yarn imports faced a problem due to a top yarn exporting country closing its exports suddenly. Now the yarn supplies for our production are steady,” she revealed.