Sri Lankan handloom sector to go hi-tech

Sri Lanka’s textile and handloom sector is to receive a major upgrade after decades with the introduction of the Jacquard loom. The Jacquard machine provides the strength of power looms to handlooms, thereby speeding up and simplifying the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce plans to install the first high quality digital Jacquard system at the Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel in Ratmalana at an approximate cost of US$ 20,000.

This system is expected to help demonstrate and train national level handloom producers, as well as private sector suppliers, who can then import these machines on their own. The Department of Textile Industry plans to import eight more Jacquard looms for each province.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, and Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Person and Cooperative Development Rishad Bathiudeen stated: “Sri Lankan handloom designers already use punch card driven Jacquard machine handlooms for their production… These machines are not sufficient to meet the speed of today’s handloom market. The textiles and handlooms development division of the ministry will therefore replace these punch card machines with digital, computerised Jacquards… This modern high tech can greatly increase the productivity of looms and appeal of the design.”

The textile and handloom sector in Sri Lanka is centuries old. It is highly labour-intensive and export oriented. Although it consumes relatively less electricity and utilities, the sector generates employment of over 12,000 personnel engaged in the sector. The handloom sector is deemed particularly lucrative in the North Western, Western and Central Provinces of Sri Lanka.