Business

Dasa Group to cultivate cotton

 

  • Eyes Polonnaruwa District for cultivation
  • Move expected to reduce import expenditure on raw material

 

By Imsha Iqbal 

The apparel supplier and wholesaler of apparel, Dasa Group of companies, has been identified as a potential investor by the Ministry of Trade in order to promote cotton cultivation in Sri Lanka, The Morning Business learnt. 

Speaking to us, the Ministry of Trade Secretary J.M.B. Jayawardana stated that in terms of promoting cotton cultivation, the Dasa Group in Dalugama, Kelaniya has been identified as an investor where the experience and knowledge of the local cotton farmers can be used for cotton cultivation promotion within the country. 

“The Cabinet of Ministers have already granted approval in expanding the cotton cultivation in the Polonnaruwa District,” she added, indicating that the Ministry is approaching towards achieving the mass scale cotton production while promoting the cotton cultivation. 

In accordance with the statistics provided by the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA), the SLAEA has been able to reach an export revenue of $ 425.75 million during the month of July 2021. However, the SLAEA pointed out that approximately half of the revenue has been spent on the import expenditure material such as thread, dyes and clothes. Therefore, the necessity, as well as the business opportunity, behind the domestic manufacturing of these essential materials has arisen. 

The Ministry Secretary also responded on the inquiry of establishing dye and thread plants in Sri Lanka, saying: “We (Ministry of Trade) have a long-term plan on it,” implying that the Ministry of Trade has identified the need behind the importance of investing on the apparel sector in terms of reducing the import expenditure costs thread and dye. 

She further said that two months ago, Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardena went for an inspection to the Katunayake Free Trade Zone on thread and dye manufacturing. Accordingly, the Ministry anticipates expanding the industry further, while simultaneously expanding the cotton cultivation. 

Jayawardana emphasised that the challenges Sri Lanka faces in cotton cultivation are the supply of quality seeds, as well as technology which the Ministry of Trade looks forward to investing in since thread plants directly contribute to the apparel export sector while reducing its import expenditure. 

However, when it comes to the present cotton cultivation in Polonnaruwa, which is taking place as sampling, Jayawardana explained that mass-scale production would possibly take much time. 

Cotton fibre is the basic raw material to the cotton textile industry as well as being eco-friendly. Cotton farming needs a hot and moist climate, and Sri Lanka has an ideal atmosphere for this. Additionally, cotton crops are necessary to be rotated with other crops such as sugarcane, corn, and banana, not cotton alone, as it increases pest or plant diseases. 

On an earlier occasion, SLAEA Past President Yohan Lawrence stated to The Morning Business that the target forecast of the apparel industry is $ 5.1 billion for 2021 from apparel exports, however, the pandemic would impact the export target. Accordingly, the cotton industry would eventually sustain the apparel export industry of the country.