Zambian delegation studies Indian handloom sector to learn how to boost cotton value addition at home

5 November 2015
ITC News
ITC-facilitated study tour part of EU project to boost value addition in African cotton sector

Zambian government officials and cotton sector representatives visited India last month on an ITC-facilitated study tour to learn how to develop the cotton handloom value chain to boost productivity, job creation, and incomes.

The delegates said the tour, organized as part of the Zambian Pilot Handloom Sector Development project financed by the European Union, helped them gain policy insights and practical advice on building a successful handloom sector.

The tour started in New Delhi in early October, with meetings at the Ministry of Textiles to understand the history of India’s handloom sector as well as the policy framework underpinning it. Delegates also visited the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum and Central Cottage Industries Emporium, a government-run store selling handicrafts from across India.

“It is extremely enriching for us to understand the Indian handloom legacy and the policy support being provided to help it thrive,” Said Joseph Nkole, National Coordinator, Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ) said

The delegation next went to the southern city of Hyderabad to observe handloom clusters and meet with stakeholders from government and industry. The delegation visited government facilities, handloom co-operatives, and handloom parks. Delegates got a chance to see handloom weaving at the village level, and were able to understand the entire handloom production process from hand spinning, yarn preparation, and weaving through to value addition like printing, cutting and sewing hand-woven fabric into consumer goods like dresses, curtains, shirts and cushion covers. They also visited the skills and services centres where training and other technical assistance are provided to handloom weavers. Delegates spent considerable time with cluster implementing agencies focusing on how to plan and implement handloom clusters.

The Zambian handloom sector development project is part of a larger EU-backed programme to promote African cotton as well as value addition in the sector. This programme seeks to support community-level value addition to cotton to generate jobs and income for cotton farmers, stimulate competitive artisanal textile production and build linkages to regional and international markets. India’s handloom clusters and their links to domestic and global markets provide a model that Zambia could emulate.

After the study tour, the head of the Zambian delegation, Tobias Mulimbika, Director, Department of Industry, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, said it would help Zambian policymakers and industry groups adopt comparable policies to build a vibrant handloom sector. “Zambia has a lot to learn from the Indian handloom sector. In the Indian tradition, handloom is a way of life and it is a part of their tradition,” he said. “Thanks to ITC and the EU for sponsoring and to the Indian government for their hospitality.”

The Zambian government has identified the cotton value chain as an important potential contributor to employment creation and poverty reduction, especially for young people. Youth skills training features prominently in the action plan delegates developed following the mission to speed the development of handloom sector in Zambia.