Financial Times

Garment sector breaks trends: brings work to the village

Sri Lanka’s clothing sector is the first and the only large scale industry that has moved into rural Sri Lanka as a viable poverty eradication alternative to traditional industries such as fisheries and agriculture, an apparel manufacturer has said.

Ashroff Omar, CEO of Brandix Lanka Ltd, speaking as chief guest at the recent annual sessions of the Organization of Professional Association of Sri Lanka (OPA) on the theme “Eradication of Poverty and Hunger”, said the industry has made a significant contribution in alleviating poverty by taking work to the worker, providing employment and essentially transforming the rural landscape.

Earlier OPA President Upali Bulumulla in his welcome address explained the management structure of the OPA, saying there are altogether 50,000 professional members affiliated to OPA. Discussing the theme of the sessions, he said most people earn less than Rs. 200 a day and 25% of the people are in extreme poverty and earn Rs. 100 a day. Many people are from the rural underdeveloped areas.

Mr. Bulumulla said to improve lives of the poor, it is necessary to plan and implement projects and programmes that will create actual jobs, improve health and education facilities. He urged the formation of a ‘think tank’ among members of the OPA’s National Council of Professionals to help and guide the poverty alleviation effort.

Mr. Omar said that his company has already started setting up operations in the East coast and expected to commence exports as early as December 2008. This is an area where the war had been and commencing development processes will definitely uplift the lives of the people in the area.

He stressed that education and professional intervention providing innovation and value addition is key for the development and growth of these industries which filter down to the society in terms of increased employment and better living conditions.

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