Thu | Sep 23, 2021

Growth & Jobs | JBDC pushes for development of local textile sector

Published:Tuesday | June 15, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Valerie Veira, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.
Valerie Veira, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.

Valerie Veira, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), is calling on local designers in the fashion and gift and craft sectors to revive local textile production at a sustainable and commercially viable level.

Veira says the JBDC is kick-starting the process of stimulating the ecosystem with a three-part lecture series during the month of June, dubbed ‘Festival of the Cloth – Conversations Across Continents, Cultural Retention and Mergers in Products and Processes’. The virtual sessions will be held on June 16, 23 and 30, featuring Jamaican and Nigerian experts.

“We are encouraging small- and large-scale production of batik/tie-dye for domestic uses and exportation, as well as to promote the use of Jamaican fabrics with Jamaican pattern/motifs. It will enhance the creative MSME sector and entrepreneurship, particularly among designers and producers of fashion, textiles and accessories,” she explained.

Over the past two years, the JBDC has benefited from the Nigerian Technical Assistance Cooperation (TAC) programme, where two Nigerian experts were assigned to JBDC to impart new techniques impacting the fashion and gift and craft sectors. The intervention resulted in over 50 Jamaican artisans and designers attaining new skills in chasing & repousse, beading and fabric print using batik.

“During this intervention, the cultural significance of the techniques used to tell stories and share cultural elements of the Nigerian heritage became evident. As a continuation of the programme, a more in-depth textiles programme is being proposed to develop a sustainable and commercially viable textile printing sector in Jamaica. This programme will seek to transform the skills learnt to create and perpetuate uniquely Jamaican designs and identity in hand-printed fabrics that will tell our stories and preserve our culture. Although batik printing is not new to Jamaica, it has not been sustained as a continuous or widely accessed activity,” Veira added.

Continuing, she pointed out that the tie-dye and resist method has long been a popular method for textile decoration on the west coast of Africa. Abeokuta, Ibadan and Oshogbo in Nigeria are popular places where this art form is still practised. It is a tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation and provides a viable avenue for the women and youth to become productive members of society. This art form is taught in several institutions as well as informally in communities. While this method is known in Jamaica, the tradition does not exist. The opportunity exists to replicate some aspects of the Nigerian model among the creative community locally, to create economic benefits and entrepreneurial endeavours.

“With the results of the intervention of the TAC programme, the JBDC is now working to build this sustainability through a second phase, dubbed ‘Festival of the Cloth’. As such, the programme will now focus on creating multiple patterns/motifs that represent Jamaica’s culture, history and natural environment, [to be] used as a vehicle to project the country’s identity. This will enable us to further enhance the Brand Jamaica ethos and strengthen the ‘Designed and Made in Jamaica’ spirit,” Veira added.

Registration is required for all sessions, which will be hosted on Zoom between 10 a.m. and 12 noon.