Jashore's weaving industry on the verge of extinction

A woman waves a handloom.Prothom Alo file photo

For years the rhythmic sound of handlooms woke up the residents of Manirampur.

Not now.

The weavers in this western region are losing the battle to keep the craft alive. They are facing extinction.

Manirapmpur upazila in Jashore has been a popular hub for handloom industry.

About 80,000 handloom workers live in 78 villages of its 249 villages. Many of the workers are from Bharatpur, Paralo and Muzgunni villages.

Villagers here have been used to the sounds of Pitloom and Khatkhati (traditional loom equipment). But these are now falling silent.

Abdur Rauf of Paralo village had once 60 to 70 Pitlooms and Khatkhatis in his house. Now he owns only 22 pitlooms.

Abdullah, who lives next door, depends on weaving for livelihood but wants to leave this profession as well.

People in this profession are moving away from this craft.

The weaving industry at Jashore's Manirumpur is almost on death bed due to labour scarcity, lack of raw materials and other challenges.

Besides, people in this profession are being beaten by modern technology.

“Weavers no longer can earn their living through this profession”, said Abdur Rauf.

Two men wave a handloom.
Prothom Alo file photo

A weaver gets Tk 40 as wage for weaving a two-yard towel or gamcha.

After working the whole day, he gets Tk 150-200 only which is not enough for his family.

That towel gets the owner a meagre profit of Tk 2.

That is why they are quitting this profession, Abdur said with a sigh.

Weavers concede they are losing competition from their counterparts of Kushtia, Sirajganj and Pabna.

“Our competitors have developed the industry with modern technology. They are making traditional handlooms even miserable,” he said.

Loom owners are urging the government’s to support them to save this dying traditional craft.

They believe with necessary raw materials, modern equipment, training and easy-term low interest loans can rejuvenate this cottage industry.

Professor Mohammad Babul Akhter, central secretary for education and human resources of Bangladesh Weavers League, said in order to keep the weaving community and the weaving industry alive in Monirampur, it is necessary to provide modern training to the workers, modern equipment and easy loans to this community.

If the government is sincere in this regard, the people of the weaving community will be able to survive, he said.