The scissors industry, an integral part of Pabna's history and heritage since 1910, is on the verge of collapse thanks to cheaper products imported from China.
Garment companies were the main buyers of the scissors. But demand has declined as big garment factories are now using machines to cut clothes. Moreover, medium and small garment factories are using Chinese and Pakistani scissors.
Besides, a shortage of workers and high prices of raw materials put the local industry in trouble.
Mohammad Saiful Islam, the owner of a scissors making unit in Shalgarhia village of Pabna, said, "I have kept this business as my ancestors' legacy. Due to the increase in the prices of iron, sand and other commodities, there is not much profit in this industry. Traders have benefited a lot from this industry before."
Currently there is a problem in marketing. Pabna scissors were once exported to China. Now Chinese scissors are being imported from China to this country, he added.
Quality scissors have been made in Pabna since the British era. Due to the good quality, the demand for these scissors has continued to rise.
Apart from being used in the Indian subcontinent, scissors from here used to be exported to other countries.
More than 2,000 industrial establishments were established in the district till the end of the Pakistan period of rule as there was no shortage of laborers and raw materials. At the time, about 20,000 workers were working in Pabna's scissors industry.
The then government had earned foreign exchange by exporting Pabna-made scissors to China and abroad.
The misery of scissors industry workers started gradually when the Pakistan occupation forces damaged most of the industries here during the Liberation War in Bangladesh.
The scissors tradition of Pabna has dwindled to about 500 industry units.
Different sizes of scissors, including of 8, 10, 12 inches, are made in the industry of Pabna. Apart from garments and tailoring shops, these scissors are used by homemakers.
Prices depend on the size. Leading wholesalers from Dhaka give orders for scissors in advance. Depending on the size and quality, each scissor is currently sold in the market at Tk200 to Tk1,500.
Businessman Uzzal Hossain said the industry was going through a hard time in the overall situation. It would be possible to keep the industry afloat with assistance from the government and easy terms loans.
In recent times, a labour crisis has also emerged as a major problem in the industry. It has become difficult to run this industry without experienced workers, he added.
Fazal Shaheen, a worker involved in the scissors industry, said the current wages in the industry had made it difficult for families to make ends meet.
Their income has also fallen to such a level that they can now hardly see any future in the ancestral profession, he added.
Meanwhile, some wholesalers in Dhaka and Chittagong have been able to export some of the scissors made in Pabna to several countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, traders have said.
If it can be done on a large scale, the industry will be able to see the light of day as before, they hoped.