Sri Lankanâ€™s handloom sector has finally turned around with several government initiatives to revive the sector. Today many Lankan handloom makers are reaping good profits, said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen addressing the inauguration of the annual handloom expo and awards event "Ran Salu" on 15th December.
The event on 15th December organized by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce felicitated a handloom veteran and issued a postal stamp by the Postal Department of Sri Lanka commemorating the 105th anniversary of the Handloom Textile Training Centre in Rajagiriya.
The Minister thanked all the handloom makers and craftsmen for their contribution and noted that for the first time in the history, a commemorative postal stamp, celebrating the historic handlooms was issued.
Speaking at the event, the Minister said that the handloom sector of Sri Lanka faced a setback and declined, starting from 1990s. However, several government initiatives have successfully revived the sector.
At present, all handloom products made in Sri Lanka are selling fast, and they are unable to meet the demand. Most sales revenues are from the Sri Lankan buyers and the rest of revenues are from tourists, said Minister Bathiudeen.
Most Lankan handloom makers are in the East. Among the other leading provinces for handlooms are central, and Southern. The government has plans to improve handloom sector of Sri Lanka, and his Ministry, under this vision, works to promote this sector and supports the handloom makers.
The Minister pointed out that 70 percent of handloom makers are women and therefore strengthening this sector is a way to empower rural women. This sector is also a contributor to government's self-employment creation plans.
Speaking of his Ministry's new initiatives for handloom sector said that the handlooms makers use high quality colorful yarns for their production work. These are expensive. Therefore they are working on a project to make low cost dyes for handloom sector. They are working on establishing a handloom dye and color center in the North Central Province with latest technology.
Still, it is important for the sector to recognize excellence. After ten years, they have sent around 35 Sri Lankan handloom craftsmen to the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology in Salem for training. During this training session, they were also introduced to new market trends.
Minister Bathiudeen also felicitated Ms Chandani Thenuwara-a veteran of Sri Lankan handlooms and who formerly served at the Textiles Department and who was initiated to arts and designs by pioneer Educationist Cora Abraham, of Arts and Free Expression for Children fame, and received a Fellowship to Camberwell College of Arts, South London in 1960s. Her biggest contribution to Lankan handlooms is introduction of shaded coloring technology to the fabrics which was not possible in pre-1970s.
The Ran Salu awards is a celebration of such achievers in handloom sector.
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