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An Overview of the Bangladesh Handloom Industry

As late as the end of the last century, the handloom industry of Bangladesh occupied an important position in the national economy of the country. The production of handlooms accounted for about 77 per cent of the total cloth production and for about 69 per cent of the total cloth availability in the country. Nearly one million people, accounting for about one third of the country’s manufacturing employment, were directly engaged in production, and also a large number of people were indirectly employed in yarn and cloth trade linked with handlooms. It contributed to 15 per cent of the share of manufacturing GDP of the country. 

Presently, looking at the trends in the number units, number of looms and their operational status, obtained from two successive censuses (1990 and 2003), have made us believe that the industry is on gradual of dwindling. This needs careful examination with in-depth studies to formulate any pragmatic policies regarding the phenomenon.  To start with we need to identify the problem by having a quick overview on the industry. With this objective, BIDS has initiated a study to understand the current situation of the handloom industry of Bangladesh. The study is funded by the Research Endowment Fund of BIDS. The study team includes Dr. K.A.S. Murshid, Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, Dr. M. Abdul Latif, and Mr. M. Zabdul Huq.

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