A ready supply of good quality home-grown cotton helps to sustain Brazil's thriving textile and garment industry. Production now stands at 900,000 tons a year and is scheduled to rise to more than l.2 million tons by 2005.

One company benefiting from this trend is Heing Textil, a Brazilian manufacturer that now lays claim to being the world's largest producer of T-shirt blanks. It is turning these garments out at the rate 5.5 million a month.

And not far behind in the T-shirt production league table is the Coteminas group which celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this year. This vertically integrated company operates 11 factories spread through four provinces and processes up to l2 per cent of the national cotton harvest.

Sustaining textile industry growth has now become vital to the economic well-being of Brazil. l.4 million jobs are directly dependent on the prosperity of the trade and a further 1.16 million workers employed in the supply of garment components and other ancillary businesses.

More than 70,000 new jobs have been created within the textile sector over the last three years, thanks to heavy inward investment. Since l995 the equivalent of US$7 billion has been poured into the textile trade with the official forecast that the industry will receive a further injection of US$12 billion between now and 2010.

By Sonia Roberts.