Lesotho News

Lesotho: Embrace Partnerships to Revive Textile Industry – Report

LESOTHO must embrace new partnerships and approaches to reconstruct the textile industry and help it recover from Covid-19.

This is according to a new study conducted by the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL) on the impact of Covid-19 on the textile industry.

The study, which sampled 93 local tailoring businesses and five foreign firms in Maseru urban, found that the lack of customers for the textile and apparel industry was a major challenge for both local and foreign firms as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study also found that high rental costs and expensive fabrics were some of the major challenges facing the industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The respondents clarified that the prices on fabrics keep rising, and this was as a result of Covid-19,” a report from the study said.

The closure of borders was another challenge since factories depend on international markets for sales while some obtained their production inputs from South Africa.

“The increase in prices of material from the local market was influenced by closed borders as tailors were unable to access materials from international market.”

Closed borders forced producers to rely on poor quality materials for their production. Industry players said they could not access good quality material for their products as it is only found in South Africa.

They also lost customers since they were unable to deliver their produce to the neighbouring country due to closed borders.

The lack of funds which forced tailors to sometimes fail to purchase quality sewing machines was identified as another challenge, with producers often failing to purchase fabrics to knit for their customers, due to non-payment of deposits. This was compounded by the lack of institutional support and coordination, especially among local producers.

To tackle these challenges, the study recommended the establishment of industry- wide structures.

“Tailoring business is considered a starter sector on the road to industrialisation as it creates employment and poverty reduction opportunities within the economy.

“However, this sector is affected by multiple challenges that hinders its growth. The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the crises that have put forth an external shock on the global economy, hence Lesotho must embrace new partnerships and approaches to reconstruct the textile industry and help it recover from Covid-19.”

The PSFL also counselled formal engagement between the industry and the government to address some of the above-mentioned challenges. It proposed the following recommendations:

Establish Textile and Apparel Association (TAA) and structures both at the National and District levels to deal with all matters relating to the textile and apparel sector;