Next time you pass by an open field, don’t be surprised by sheets with a metallic sheen lining its ridges. These are mulching sheets, a kind of technical textile used to protect soil moisture from harsh sunlight. Technical textiles are being increasingly deployed in various sectors — from agriculture, construction to transportation and space exploration. The National Technical Textiles Mission was launched in February 2020 with an outlay of #14.8 billion to promote domestic consumption and exports. However, expectation from the industry has fallen drastically over the past two years. Two KPMG reports — one released in August 2019 and the latest in March 2021 — show a dip in growth projection. While the earlier report predicted the industry’s growth to $28.7 billion by 2021, the recent one projects it would grow to $23.3 billion by 2027.
“The textiles industry was significantly affected by COVID-19,” says Mohit Bhasin, partner (government advisory) at KPMG India and co-author of both the reports. He, however, expects growth to pick up in the next few months because of initiatives such as the self-reliance drive and the seven Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel parks. Other than the pandemic, Bhasin says, “lack of focus on research, innovation and product development” is holding the industry back. He adds that India needs to build infrastructure and R&D capabilities in applied research and to meet global market requirements.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has emerged as a strong competitor because, as Bhasin points out, it has focused on building scale for global high-value products and its manufacturers have access to cutting-edge technology from collaboration with China, Taiwan and South Korea. The March 2021 report says that India will see the fastest growth in the APAC region — 7.6% against the region’s 5.9%. But much of it could be due to the low-base effect than a gain in market share.