Experts for raising awareness among farmers to drive growth in production of agro-textile goods
The use of woven, non-woven and knitted fabrics in agriculture can drive growth in both the agriculture and textile industries.
Use of biodegradable textiles in agriculture can be an emerging domestic market for the textile sector, but at the same time, leveraging the symbiotic relationship between both industries can also accelerate eco-friendly agricultural production and good agricultural practices (GAP), say experts.
And as an agriculture-based economy, Bangladesh has a great opportunity to capitalize on this emerging market; about 60% of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture.
Agro-textile mainly includes the application of textiles in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, floriculture, making fishing nets, landscape, animal husbandry, and other sectors.
Woven textile products like sunscreen, packing sack, insect meshes, control fabrics, nets and ground cover; non-woven products like mulch mat; and knitted products like plant nets and shades are in high demand for agriculture.
So, the textile sector of Bangladesh has the opportunity to expand their footprint into the domestic agricultural sector.
Fulbaria and Chawkbazar of the capital, the biggest markets of agro-textile products in the country, are home to products sold by several local textile and knitwear manufacturers from their factories in Gazipur, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, and Munshiganj.
Qurban Ali, a senior official of Marium Textile Mills — a Gazipur-based textile manufacturer — said their factory mainly produces nets and mesh fabric.
“We are now producing products targeting the domestic market. However, the farmers are not yet fully aware about using these. If they can be made aware of the use of agro-textile, the market for these products will grow bigger and agriculture will also move forward,” he added.
But the use of agro-textile products has seen a rise due to their biodegradability, according to industry insiders.
An official of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) said that not all agro-textile products are produced in Bangladesh.
Nearly 50 factories in the textile sector produce nets and mesh fabrics while some factories in the knitwear sector produce other agro-textile products.
“There are some problems on both sides. The market is small now as farmers are not yet fully aware about it. So, many factories are not interested in producing agro-tex products. And farmers are not interested in buying these as the prices are a bit high now,” he added.
However, he said, the picture is changing.
Modernization of agriculture, mechanization, and increase of youth entrepreneurs in the sector are contributing to the increase in the use of agro-textiles.
“If the demand for the products increases in the country's market, then we have no problem in increasing production. There is a shortage of synthetic cotton, yet factories have the capacity to go into production if demand increases,” he added.
Mostafa Jamal Pasha, director of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said that a few factories in the knitwear sector may produce textile products associated with agriculture. However, a lot of agro-tex products used in agriculture are imported.
Abdullah Al Faruque, an assistant professor of the Department of Fabric Engineering under Bangladesh University of Textile (BUTex), wrote in a journal: “Bangladesh is the second-largest jute-producing country and it has a world class textile industry.
“So, they can easily start a wing for agro-textiles. There is also a huge market potential in Bangladesh and throughout the world for agro-textile,” he added.
An official of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said that they are working to raise awareness among farmers to implement GAP.
“Agro-textile products are very eco-friendly. However, in order to increase its popularity widely among farmers, manufacturers have to bring the price within the reach of our farmers,” he added.