Jigmi Wangdi 

The Royal Textile Academy (RTA) launched three survey reports on November 29 in Thimphu. One of the surveys focused on the hand-woven textile industry in Bhutan.

The survey found that most Bhutanese engaged in textile production focused in weaving compared to other areas such as yarn production, processing and dyeing, etc.

It was found that around 50 percent of the households or families derived less than 25 percent of their household income from weaving. Around 85 percent of the weavers in Bhutan weave for their own consumption.

According to the survey, about 55 percent of the weavers used their own savings as investment, 20 percent from the sale of textile products, 15 percent with support from family and friends, and 5 percent was financed by clients who provide the materials.

The satisfaction level with the quality of traditional Bhutanese fibre types such as cotton, sheep wool, yak wool and nettle is very low. In contrast, satisfaction level with the quality of imported fibre types is very high.

The study found that this could be because traditional Bhutanese fibre types are generally viewed as expensive. Also, accessibility to traditional Bhutanese fibre types is considered difficult, whereas imported fibre types are easily accessible.

The study shows that weaving in Bhutan takes place at home, indicating that weaving in Bhutan is more of a ‘home’ or ‘local’ affair and weavers make the decision themselves regarding the type of product and its production size. This, according to the study, is largely owing to experience, market trends, clientele, etc.

Weavers face less challenge when customers pay in cash, when payments are immediate, and when middlemen are trustworthy in making payments.

According to the report, around 40 percent of the weavers use their income/profit generated on household expenses, saving it for education, and investing it back into weaving and other areas. Majority of the decisions on the usage of the income generated is made by the weavers themselves and to a certain extent by their spouses.

The study found that around 30 percent of the sellers face some challenges in delivering their products owing to lack of transport and high cost of transportation, including labour charges.

According to the study, weaving is generally a skill that is largely handed down from a parent to child. Weavers are found to have learnt weaving at all age levels (below 12 years, 13 to 20 and 21 to 30), majority being between the ages of 13-20.

The report recommends that hand-woven textile sector should be transformed into a formal textile industry and institutionalise the textile production system. According to the report, it is also important to establish quality control and supply chain linkages and ensure the availability of easily accessible, affordable, quality Bhutanese fibre types.

The report also recommends the improvement of weaver’s skills and education by enhancing it mainly by focusing on textile- designing and technical skills, and to a certain extent on business skills.

There were 6,077 respondents of which 99.3 percent were female and 0.7 percent male.