Textile sector in northeast gets a Rs.1,038 cr push

Agartala, April 15 (IANS) The Union government has undertaken a Rs.1,038 crore ($156 million) scheme in the northeast to boost textile exports, increase jobs and and curb the migration of workers.

Funded by the union Ministry of Textiles under the North-East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS), the project is also aimed at developing and modernising the textile sector by providing region-specific flexibility in execution.

“Under the NERTPS, the textile ministry has been providing Rs.18 crore each for setting up of a ready-made garment manufacturing unit or ‘Apparel and Garment Making Centre’ (AGMC) in each of the eight northeastern states. It would also provide financial assistance to run the units after their commissioning,” Textiles Secretary Rashmi Verma told IANS.

The first AGMC was inaugurated in Nagaland on April 6 and the second one in Tripura on April 8.

“The AGMCs in other six states are expected to start manufacturing in a month. After starting production of all the eight AGMCs, there would be a landmark development in the textile sector in the northeastern region,” the senior IAS officer added.

“The AGMCs aim to boost the scopes of employment and exports and curb migration of workers from this region to other parts of the country,” she said.

Three hundred Japanese computerised sewing machines will be installed in each of the eight AGMCs. The Tokyo-based Juki company, which started making sewing machines in 1947, has customers in 170 countries from China to the Vatican.

Of the 300 sewing machines, 200 would be used for manufacturing and 100 for providing training.

Each AGMC will provide direct employment to 1,200-1,500 people, mostly women, and take care of skill up-gradation and marketing of finished products.

Each unit is expected to meet the demand for uniforms and garments of the police, security and paramilitary forces – as also schoolchildren and civilians – in the region.

This is just for starters. A host of schemes are planned in the northeastern states under the NERTPS, which covers projects across the textiles sector ranging from sericulture, handlooms, handicrafts, power looms to apparel and garmenting.

Verma said that under the cluster development projects for handlooms, the rich and well-liked handloom sector of the northeast would be developed and modernised to increase production, productivity, employability and value addition of the handlooms by means of technology up-gradation.

“As bamboo is one of the rich resources of the region, handicrafts with a variety of designs and its diverse use in northeastern states have an immense global market. This sector must be developed,” Verma said, adding: “Sericulture is another viable sector which also has tremendous scope to provide more and more employment and to earn foreign exchange.”

With a 46 million population, the northeastern states share a more than 5,435-km border with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Some of the states have trade ties with a few of these countries, especially Bangladesh and Myanmar. Thus, the AGMCs have scope to exporting readymade apparel to these adjoining and other countries.

Verma said that the readymade garments contribute 11 percent of India’s exports, seven percent to GDP and provides the maximum employment after agriculture.

India’s current share in the global apparel and garment market is a mere 3.7 percent against Bangladesh’s 6.1 percent and Vietnam’s 4.3 percent, signifying that India has the potential to step up output, both for domestic requirements and exports.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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