- One kg of hair imported from India costs $63 or Tk5,400
- Duty of Tk850 per kg
- 25 factories in Dinajpur buy discarded hair to make wigs for export
- After meeting local demand, wigs and toupees are exported
Throwaway hair of women is being imported from India for the first time through Hili Land Port to meet the growing demand for this raw material at local wig factories.
Bangladeshi traders Nashat Traders and Ashiq Enterprise, are importing this discarded hair from RK Exports and Human Hair, based in the Indian state of West Bengal.
Nur Islam, proprietor of Nashat Traders, said "Recently many hair cap [wig] factories have come up in the region, where different types of toupees or wigs are made of discarded hair. Since the start of financial year 2021-22, to meet the growing demand for hair at these factories, discarded hair is being imported from India."
At present, a kilogram of hair imported from India costs $63 or about Tk5,400, with a duty of Tk850 per kg, he added.
Nur Islam says there are 25 factories in Dinajpur that buy discarded hair to make wigs for export. Nur Islam imports hair twice a month, each consignment consisting of 1,400 kilograms of hair.
At the factories, the hair is first sorted by workers, mostly women. Then it is processed, using shampoo and various chemicals, to make wigs.
Hili Customs Station Revenue Officer, SM Nurul Alam Khan, said that in financial year 2021-22, from 1 July to 24 September, 4,780 kilograms of hair was imported from India across the land port, and the government has earned Tk20.27 lakh in tax revenue.
The revenue officer said customs is providing all kinds of facilities to importers in importing and exporting goods through the port.
Wig factory owners say, after meeting local demand, wigs and toupees are exported to China and other countries.
According to data available on the Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh website, Bangladesh exported $23.02 million worth of human hair and wigs in fiscal 2017-18. Ten years ago, hardly $0.81 million worth of human hair and wigs was exported. The official data clearly shows this multimillion dollar business is expanding substantially.
The Export Promotion Bureau, however, has limited data on hair exports, provided only by large-scale hair product manufacturers in the country.