Despite having huge potential, the country's silk industry is now struggling mainly due to lack of policy support and research, speakers at a webinar have said.
Keeping this in view, they suggested formulating long-term plans, ensuring coordination among stakeholders and providing incentives to the mulberry tree farmers to help the silk industry sustain its growth.
They made the observations at a webinar on challenges and prospect of the country's silk industry organised by the Financial Express recently and uploaded to its official Facebook page on Friday with the support of Huawei, a multinational telecommunication company.
Liakat Ali, president of Bangladesh Silk Industries Owners Association, Abdul Hakim, director general of Bangladesh Sericulture Development Board (BSDB), and Akbarul Hassan Millat, editor of the Rajshahi-based daily Sonar Desh, spoke at the webinar.
In his speech, Millat said the current scenario of silk industry is frustrating though this labour-intensive sector once created employments for around one million people.
"The sector is losing its heritage, even there is no sign of recovery," he said, adding that there is also no visible programmes undertaken to this effect.
Mr Millat also said there is absence of well-planned initiative to organise and patronise the sericulturists while many people are now leaving their profession.
Liakat Ali said the sector is now struggling since the authorities concerned have not taken necessary measures to save trade.
"We need to devise short-term, mid-term and long-term plans in an effort to save the sector," said Mr Ali.
Comparing the silk industry with the aquaculture, he underscored the need for providing the required support to the very grassroots level starting from mulberry tree plantation to yarn reeling.
He also laid emphasis on giving necessary support to the private sector.
"If proper policy support is given to the sericulture farmers, Bangladesh could even export after meeting the local demand for 400 tonnes of silk yarn," he said.
Mr Hakim said Bangladesh could reach the third position as the silk-producing nation from its ninth position currently thanks to the congenial environment and climate.
"Rajshahi silk got geographical indication or GI certification which will help promote the sector," said Mr Hakim.
In the last fiscal year, 971,000 mulberry trees were planted by the farmers under the government support, he said.
The Bangladesh government merged sericulture related three organisations into one agency in 2013 for the development of the silk industry in the country, which reflects the government's willingness to promote the sector, said the DG.
"Incorporation of the organisations, amendment to the laws and restructure of organogram were time-consuming."
The ministry of textiles and jute issued a government order to finalise the merger procedure on the first day of the current fiscal year, he said, adding that a move is underway to start operations of 19 looms at Rajshahi Silk Factory.
The government is taking up a number of schemes for development of sericulture including skills enhancement, equipment procurement and increasing the cultivation area, he said.