Over 100 factories set up in rural areas
Staff Correspondent: Garment exporters are increasingly becoming interested in setting up factories in rural areas, giving a new life to the rural economy and creating employment prospects for youths. Thanks to improved infrastructure facilities across the country, investors are finding it much more feasible to choose rural sites for new factories.
Factories in rural areas are also helping change the course of the rural economy by creating new markets for small businesses and backward linkage sub-sectors. Entrepreneurs and experts said the expansion of garment units to rural areas is helping the country decentralise the creation of new employment as jobs in the apparel sector are mainly based in a handful of industrial belts in urban areas.
According to industry insiders, around 100 export-oriented apparel factories have already been established in rural areas of different districts. Notable among those are San Apparels Ltd at Amtoli under Sreepur Upazila of Magura district, Amir Shirts Ltd at Supua village at Chowddagram upazila in Comilla, Nurani Dyeing and Sweater Ltd at Fatehpur in Feni, Impress-Newtex Composite Textiles Ltd at Mirzapur upazila in Tangail, Bornali Fabrics at Sadar upazila in Munshigonj and Leeu Fashion Ltd at Meharabari, Hazir Bazar in Valuka upazila of Mymensingh. San Apparels Ltd has been established in 6.5 acres of land in remote Amtoli village under Sreepur Upazila of Magura. Factory authorities said they started production in the new factory in December 2016 with 15 swing lines, and they are planning to add another 10 swing lines. The factory has created jobs for around 1,500 people, and the number of workers will reach 2,500 soon. Some 60 per cent of the workers are female, said the factory authorities, adding that the manufacturing unit has the capacity to 3.5 lakh woven items per month. San Apparels Ltd director Maqsud Islam told the daily sun that the factory is a part of their family business. He said they had a dream to establish a factory in their local area to create employment opportunities for the rural community. “Most of the workers are local people and they did not have any experience in the garment sector. We trained up them,” Maqsud Islam said, adding that some mid-level officials were recruited from Dhaka and factories from others industrial areas. He also said garment workers, in general, are keen to work in factories set up in rural areas, particularly in and around their village home, as the living cost much lower in rural areas. The workers are paid according to the wage board for garment workers, said the director of San Apparels Ltd. He said they have obtained compliance certificates from renowned international buyers, including ZARA, H&M, Next and Bestseller. Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Vice-president (finance) Mohammed Nasir, he said “Once the garment industry was based in the industrial areas of Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayangonj and Gazipur. But today garment industries are spread out across the country.”Garment factories are creating new employment opportunities to the rural communities and bringing new dynamism in the country’s new economy, he said.”When a factory is set up in an area, it creates a whole era of economic activities– township, small business, service-oriented facilities such house rental, medical and banking facilities,” the BGMEA Vice-president said. Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said setting up garment factories in rural areas in a commendable move by the apparel exporters.”But they should maintain all the compliance standards and the government should monitor this,” Golam Moazzem said, adding that the export-oriented factories also have to follow the wage structure of garment workers.