SRINAGAR: As part of the webinar series on Pashmina and its future prospects, a second edition of the webinar was held today in which domain experts, stakeholder, departmental representatives and INTACH, J&K joined the session. The session began with the introductory remarks of Director Handicrafts & Handloom Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, who gave the present status of Pashmina and its future course. Highlighting that the machine intervention has lead to marginalization of spinning and weaving activity as a result of which quality of pashmina products has gone down, he said that there is an urgent need of reviving the manual dehairing, spinning and weaving to restore the glory of Pashmina.
The department, he said, has recently launched GI promotion films, radio jingles and print & electronic campaigns to underscore the need of the promotion of genuine handmade pashmina products. “It has become essential to bring home the point that GI testing and promotion of GI pashmina is the cornerstone of marketing,” he added.
It has become critical to the Pashmina trade that the access to quality supplies from Changthang remains smooth and hassle free. Some recent articles have highlighted the issue confronting Changthang pashmina and Changpas. To understand the perspectives in better manners, Dr Mohammed Deen, Pashmina Expert & Founder LEHO Leh, was invited as a keynote speaker to delve at length on the status of Pashmina goat rearing, its products and supply to various parts of the country ,abroad and particularly to Kashmir.
Speaking in the webinar Dr. Deen highlighted the various aspects involved in rearing of Pashmina goat (Capra hircus) and problems being faced in view of global warming and issues facing in light of the border flare up. He also highlighted the aspects like decrease in productivity of alpine pastures and other biotic factors. He informed that various steps have been taken to ensure that the number of goat rearing increased and also the increase in the yield of Pashmina per Goat is also achieved . He emphasized on utilization of technology to irrigate pastures mechanically and also accomplish the genetic improvement of the goat stock .
Ghulam u Din Reshi, Member KCCI elaborated upon the procurement of Pashmina from Ladakh and the process of hand spinning in Kashmir to be given fresh impetus. He also underscored the need to ensure the enhancement of the wages to the hand spinners to re-attract the women folk to the spinning process.
Abrar Khan Chairman, Genuine Kashmir Cottage Handicrafts Protection Forum also emphasized the enhancement of wages both weavers and spinners and to strengthen the pashmina raw material bank of SICOP to provide easy and quality Pashmina to spinners. The point of low wages was also highlighted by Mr Tariq Ahmad, President Kashmir Pashmina Karigar Union and Mr Bashir Ahmad , National Awardee Kanishawl jamawar,
Mr. Mubashir Shaw who is leading exporter of handicrafts appreciated the facts that the wages of the artisans need to be enhanced for survival of craft in large run which can happen only by the promotion of GI tagged products.
Babar Pashmina expert highlighted the role of PR platform to provide a greater visibility to the genuine handicrafts products to fetch better prices for the artisans and weavers. He also underscored the need to come out with a brand building exercise for Kashmir handicrafts products.
Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Scientist Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore gave a conservationist angle of the Changthang ecosystem and need to conserve the biodiversity of this unique natural landscape . He suggested ways and means of increasing the nutritive value of grasses and ecofriendly intervention to ensure optimal yields of the pashmina goats. He also alluded to the idea of introduction of semi captivity measures to harness the fleece of Chiru.
Mushtaq A Shah, Handicraft expert & Ex- Assistant Director Export Promotion, suggested that if some type of genetic engineering methods are employed to extract the wool from other goats of same nature as that of pashmina goat ,an interesting facet to be explored . He cited the example of genetically engineered pashmina goat, “Noori” breed by SKAUST-K team. Saleem Beg, Convener INTACH, J&K Chapter who was coordinating the programme also put forth his expertise and views on the topic and emphasized upon the participants about the importance of these types of webinars.
Future discourses on the topic are being held in coming days to draw up a comprehensive road map for the promotion of the pashmina craft.