"The Task Force will also oversee capacity building of 100,000 handloom personnel in the next three years so that the human resource void could be overcome,” said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce.
"Industry experts and pioneers have already warned of the dearth of second generation skilled weavers once the current weavers vacate from the industry. Lack of recognition is a major reason for the youth to stay away from this promising industry."
The district level handloom centres will be coordinated by a planned centralised National Handloom Coordinating Centre under the Department of Textiles.
The Task Force will focus on marketing, training and designing, entrepreneurship in the handloom industry, productivity enhancement, and procuring of raw material.
It will also study the problems faced by major buyers and exporters, and examine and recommend improvements to the industry affected in northern and eastern provinces which are recovering from the effects of the ethnic war.
Its annual production exceeds six million metres of looms with an estimated annual production value of 1,500 million rupees (13.19 million US dollars) sold locally and abroad.Production is labour intensive and the industry consumes less electricity and utilities while generating higher employment, the statement said.
There are 511 weaving centres with 2,971 weavers and more than 10,000 looms in Sri Lanka assisted by 22 dying houses and the industry employs over 15,000 people.