SRINAGAR: Decline of a whopping `227 crore in handicrafts exports from Kashmir amounting to 21 percent loss during the previous fiscal has dashed the hopes of thousands of traders and artisans. The exporters relate the perpetual decline to fragile global demand for the handicrafts.
According to the statistics of the export promotion wing at the directorate of handicrafts here, the decline in exports has been witnessed second time in a succession. The carpet export is the main target of the decline that recorded a dip of around `200 crores as compared to the last year’s exports. The carpet exports were to the tune of `492.18 crore in the financial year 2014-15.
The figures show that total handicraft exports have remained at `1059.41 in the latest recorded fiscal. This is far less than the exports recorded in 2014-15, the year that saw floods devastating Kashmir when the exports touched `1695.83 crore, the highest figure in the last five years.
Mushtaq Ahamd Wani who heads Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, a prominent business body, told Kashmir Reader that exports from India were currently witnessing a decline that has a ripple effect on Kashmir’s exports.
“The total exports are far below our expectation and this is the second consecutive year that we are witnessing the slump,” Wani said adding the trend has affected the entire manufacturing sector and worried most of the exporters.
Apart from shawls all other handicraft products including the paper-mâché, chain stitch and woodcarvingexports have dipped. The papier-mâchéexports have declined by 177 percent.
The data shows that paper machie exports in the year 2014-15 had touched `71.70 crore compared to the exports in the previous year recorded at `24.83 crore.
The pashmina and chain stitch exports, however, have increased by a few crores. Pashmina wool fabrics, which are mostly exported in the form of shawls and rumals recorded exportfigures of `376.79 crores, while the chainstitchproductstouched `332 croresthisfiscal, recording a jump of `17crores over the previous figures.
Feroz Ahmad Bisati, co-owner of Modern Carpets, however, appears optimistic despite the declining trend in the trade. “We canregain some of the lost market if all stakeholders discourage fabrication of fake products and compensate the craftsmen according to their work,” Bisati said while obliquely commenting on the derclkining standard of the Kashmiri handicrafts.
He said that the cut-throat competition in the international handicrafts market warrants higher degree of professionalism and commitment. “The declining handicraft exports can result in further dropout rate among the artisans as manufacturing activity gets stagnated due to low demand,” he said. He said that to compensate for the export losses, the chamber is planning to hold a buyer-seller meet this year.