Innovations, incentives direly needed to boost textile sector

Innovations, incentives direly needed to boost textile sector

By Iftikhar Ahmed

FAISALABAD, Jan 22 (APP): Like many other sectors, country’s textile industry is also facing serious challenge for its survival and valuably contributing to national exports for generating foreign exchange and putting economy on strong footing.

Lack of high performance yarn and fiber like carbon and aramid fiber, devaluation of rupee against dollar, dwindling cotton crop, costly energy and rising cost of production, lack of innovation and advanced testing facilities and validation of technical materials like anti-microbial activity, fire retardant, porosity, filtration efficiency are the major issues confronting this industry.

Industrialists in Faisalabad like any other part of the city are equally worried about the vibrant future of this industry with this ‘Manchester of Pakistan’ contributing around 60 percent share in total textile exports of the country and having unique privilege to cater 80 percent textile needs of domestic market.

Textile industry in Faisalabad is as old as Pakistan as the city had only 5000 spindles at the time of independence that today counts in hundreds of thousands even at a single unit. Although the city has estimated 85 composite textile units, the number of SMEs is countless with majority of them not listed in official books.

“Textile is the biggest industrial sector contributing 58 percent in our exports, 45 percent jobs and 85 percent share in GDP,” said Dr Yasir Nawab, Dean Faculty of Textile Engineering at National Textile University Faisalabad (NTUF).

“Pakistan is second to Bangladesh among the countries mostly depending on textile exports. But its textile exports growth remained quite low in comparison to other regional countries,” he said.

“Textile care is very important when dealing with textile goods. But, we lack technical expertise and latest technology and requires specialized industrial laundries to ensure durability of functional treatments and coatings,” Dr Yasir said.

He said that Pakistan is ranked at 107th position among the 140 countries in the global competitiveness index and at 125th in the category of human skills.

“Being highly innovative, technical textile has become versatile in the world. But, its share in Pakistan’s export is very low and adopting it can help us capture big world markets,” Dr Yasir remarked.

He quoted example of India whose textile sector grew very fast after adopting technical textile. “Therefore, we direly need specialized centers of excellence and competitiveness for technical training, consultation and technology transfer.”

Rector NTUF Prof Dr Tanvir Hussain has also emphasized to adopt innovative and unique ideas to make textile products competitive in global market. “The textile scientists should introduce such ideas to make textile products compatible in international market to grab more slots and earn maximum foreign exchange.”

National Textile University Faisalabad (NTUF) is centre of excellence for textile sector but local industrialists failed to avail its potential although industrialists from Sialkot inked MoUs with NTUF seeking immediate and practical solutions to their problems.

The spokesman of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) was also found in complete agreement with the idea of using innovative techniques and said, “innovation is an urgent requirement for textile sector in present era but reluctance of majority industrialists to opt for it was the major challenge.”

He said textile sector has 16 segments starting from ginning to fashion garments wherein value is added to cotton or man-made fiber in different phases. “We can better compete in international market if we innovate these segments and do away with old techniques.”
Shrinking cotton production volume is another challenge that reduces textile production and major chunk of textile produce is consumed domestically leaving minimal space for exports.

“Pakistan was exporting clothes when our cotton production had touched a threshold of 14 million bales,” said Former President FCCI Mian Zahid Aslam. “When cotton production declined (4.6 million bales this year), we could hardly meet our domestic needs finding nominal space for exports.”

He said weaving sector also remained sluggish and we failed to use blended clothes with cotton and man-made fiber. “Our government negotiated with EU to get GSP plus status to stabilize economy. But, we could not fully exploit this facility and availed only five percent of concessional lines that squeezed scenario for our overall growth in exports.”

Mian Zahid said another important factor is peculiar mindset of our industrialists as they are not ready to adopt new and innovative technologies. “Our power loom sector is still using looms manufactured in 2000 or those discarded by developed countries. The motors used in these looms are inefficient and consume much more electricity as compared to latest motors.”

The use of gunny bags by growers to store cotton instead of polypropylene is another issue as cotton stored in gunny bags produce huge quantity of thrash and yarn manufactured thereon is not of fine quality.

The current electricity crisis has also provided a chance to adopt new and innovative technologies in machinery as well as product diversification.

Therefore, experts believe that if latest techniques are adopted in all 16 sub-sectors of textile and each sub-sector grows only by one percent annually, the cumulative growth impact of this sector can easily touch 16% benchmark, enabling industry to meet domestic needs and export quality goods to reduce trade deficit.

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