The Tailors Association of Malawi believes that if well supported, the tailoring sector could bring in the much-needed foreign exchange into the country.
The association’s general secretary, James Chatuwa, said this on Friday in Blantyre at the close of a two-week long technical skills training for people in the textiles and clothing sub sector.
“Tailoring could come second to agriculture as an industry that brings in foreign exchange if it were well supported. Currently, a lot of money is being drained through kaunjika [second hand clothes] imports when tailors could as well make the clothes locally.
“Our association was formed with the aim of utilising the Agoa [Africa Growth and Opportunity Act] initiative, but unfortunately, because of lack of funding in the sector, we are still using obsolete machines and we cannot competitively perform through Agoa,” he said.
Chatuwa hailed the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) for organising the training, which would, among other things, help them to revive the industry and make it competitive through the technological transfer.
“The future is bright for the industry, but what we want is support that can contribute towards forex generation,” he said.
Chatuwa noted that the textile industry is considered inferior because it is not encouraged at tertiary level.
He thus, called on government to consider introducing the course in the colleges and also to take needlecraft back into the education system.
MCCCI public, private dialogue manager Hope Chavula said the technical skills training would focus on improving the tailoring skills of the identified small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“Specifically, the training will ensure that participants acquire skills and practical training on basics of textile [fabric stricture], designing and pattern making, cutting, sewing, final finishing, embroidery, basics of machine maintenance, marketing and merchandising, customer handling, costing, and marketing trends among others,” he said.
MCCCI collaborated with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) to facilitate the development of clusters in three sub sectors which include agro-foods (roots and tubers/fruits and vegetables), textile-clothing and the footwear industries, among others.