Assistance Programme for Local Batik Industry
By Eunice Ruth and Sajith Gayan
The Batik industry in Sri Lanka is a small scale industry which employs individuals based on their talent and creativity. It has created a way to increase self employment opportunities within the country. Even though it makes a huge profit for the country’s economy, while dealing with foreign customers, still the small producers are not identified properly by the Government and the relevant authorities. The local producers said they suffer a lot without having a proper way to get the needed raw materials and without a proper market to sell their final products.
In many developed and developing countries of the world, the local industrial development is at the front of development. Obtaining and distributing raw materials to the needed people were done properly in those countries and also the incorporation of the needed technology for the batik manufacturing industry was adopted perfectly, where it has lead to a huge success. However in Sri Lanka, nothing has been done to encourage and support the local manufactures, said a group of entrepreneurs.
They said that they are not wealthy enough to do everything on their own and even they are unable to afford for the raw material purchase. The batik manufacturers have requested the authorities and the Government to take steps, to bring the rural self-employed in the country to a good level by recognising their needs.
Meanwhile, by recognising the demand for the batik industry, the Saubhagya Production Village Programme has been implemented within Palugaswewa Divisional Secretariat area. Several villages in the divisional secretariat area were selected for this Programme and it was implemented by the Department of Samurdhi Development to provide guidance and support to the local manufacturers, to achieve the goal of promoting all local industries in the country.
The Minister of Department of Samurdhi Development, Shehan Semasinghe has initiated this Programme and stated that Rs 100 lakhs had been allocated for this production village Programme which consist of about 51 families.
While commenting on this, a batik entrepreneur in the village, Dilrukshi Tharangani said that, they had many issues in their profession and they have gone through hard times by engaging in the batik manufacturing industry. We are self employed people and we had much shortage of facilities in running the industry. We are unable to get the needed raw materials and also we have no proper facilities to do dye baths. The sellers sell them at a higher rate where we can’t afford to buy them. Even though we buy such expensive things, we are unable to sell our manufactured products at a higher rate to receive an income. Also, with the current trends and fashions, people are not wanting to buy batik clothes and it has led us to go through some bad days where we can’t sell any of our products.
She further said that, even though they were going through so many issues, no one had helped or paid any attention on the issues they were facing. However, with the current initiative, I believe the Saubhagya village Programme will help us to uplift our levels to a industrial level, she added.
Another entrepreneur of the village, Vasana Sanjeewani, said that about 20 of us received batik training in this village. However, due to the lack of facilities, only a few of those who received the training are now self employed in the batik industry and the remaining have travelled in other paths as they find difficulties in continuing this batik manufacturing. She also added that, till today, they had no proper market to sell their products and they have turned their own homes into shops to sell the final products. We make batik at our home with minimum resources and we used ground wax for dye bath process.
She also pointed out that, they were running everything all alone without having any support from any responsible authorities or the Government. However, along with the new initiative, we hope that we will be able to survive with a good income and needed support for the manufacturing.
Meanwhile, when contacted an official from Ministry of Industries, Batik Handloom Fabric and Local Apparel Products, he noted that, currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unable to inspect the place to find a solution. However, he said that the ministry will support and help the local entrepreneurs by fulfilling their requests. He asked the local entrepreneurs to make a complaint regarding their issues and shortages, to the Ministry by contacting via phone. The Ministry will look into the possible ways to support and uplift the business of the people who are suffering alone, he added. Also he advised the local entrepreneurs that, people who are facing difficulties in running their businesses because of COVID-19 or otherwise can contact the Ministry for help, support and guidance.