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National Level Workshop on Prospects of Natural Fiber-based Products

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A one- day long national level workshop on prospects of natural fiber based products and closing ceremony was arranged at IVY Rahman Auditorium, Bangladesh Mohila Samity, 4 Natok Sarani, Dhaka on 07 September, 2016 with 150 participants who were buyers, designers, representatives of different business institutes to create favorable environment for women SME clusters grow through mobilization of prospects and enhance favorable policy framework for women SMEs for promotion of natural fiber. Women cluster leaders and deputy cluster leaders (32 persons ) from the project areas like Tangail Sadar and Modhupur upazila, Narsingdi and Gaibandha district, media representatives, and various stakeholders including representatives from government and non-government organizations, development partners, general members and directors of BWCCI were also present and actively participated in the event.

Mr. Amir Hossain Amu, MP, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Industries, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the occasion as the Chief Guest, while Mr. Mario Ronconi, Minister Counsellor and Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh was present as the Guest of Honor and Mr. Sushen Chandra Das, Project Director, Bangladesh INSPIRED and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries, Mr. Ali Sabet, Team Leader, Bangladesh INSPIRED, Component 1 and 2 B and Mr. Sirajul Islam, Director, BURO Bangladesh attended the occasion as distinguished guests. Ms. Selima Ahmad, President, BWCCI chaired the program.

BWCCI President Ms. Selima Ahmad conducted the workshop. Products from banana and pineapple fibers such as bags, mates and showpieces etc. were exhibited during the workshop. An overall presentation on project background, activities, findings and favorable policy supports required from government as well as other institutes was delivered by Ms. Selima Ahmad. A video documentary was also presented. She also facilitated an open discussion where women SME leaders come from different clusters also presented their current status of natural fiber based product development activities and other major issues like product marketing and funding support. Women entrepreneurs raised the issue of cooperation of government and all other stakeholders for better promotion of fiber-based products. Representative of SME foundation gave his opinion and commitment for providing support of promoting the handicrafts.

In her speech BWCCI President Ms. Selima Ahmad said that it is the time to recognize the banana and pineapple fiber as a valuable resource. Waste materials are being used now as the raw materials of lucrative and innovative handicraft items. It has already been proved that the banana stem and pineapple leaves are not waste materials. Use of natural fiber is being increased gradually as trained women SMEs are producing and selling their products made of natural fiber. Banana and pineapple fiber is also reducing environmental pollution. She urged to ensure easy loan, provide technology and training support from the Ministry of Industries, SME Foundation, Export Promotion Bureau and also to assist the women entrepreneurs for marketing of their products at the national and international level. Finally she underlined that it was highly desired to explore this natural fiber based industrial initiative for having progressive Bangladesh.

As the Chief Guest, Mr. Amir Hossain Amu, MP, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Industries, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh said that this new intervention is highly contributing to the national economic development; it also helps develop women for taking initiatives for social and economic development of the country and to create skilled human resources. Giving importance to the initiative, the minister informed the house that our government sincerely believes that without women empowerment sustainable development is impossible as they represent half of the population of the country. For this reason, government is giving importance on economic empowerment of the women in every sector. This project has taken the initiative to involve poor women in income generation and it is really praiseworthy. He also added that employment of the poor rural women through the natural fiber based production has motivated him a lot. Rural women are now developing their skills through technical training to produce different kinds of handicraft products. Natural fiber products have been progressive sectors of this country. Honorable Minister gave assurance to place request before the Honorable Prime Minister for her kind support to flourish this sector in future. In conclusion the Honorable Minister stated that besides government, other non-government institutions, development partners including the European Union and business community must come forward to extend their support to explore this natural fiber based product initiative.

Mr. Ali Sabet, Team Leader in his speech commended the initiatives of BWCCI said that as a pilot intervention, this project has already achieved its goal. He also hoped the development partners including the European Union, will come forward to assist the poor and rural women e towards sustainable development.

Mr. Sushen Chandra Das, Project Director, Bangladesh INSPIRED and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries said that Bangladesh Government gave his support to the women entrepreneurs. A series of projects have already been taken by the government as per the 7th five years plan and vision 2021. He also assured the government would continue their support to the women SMEs.

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