Handicraft export blooms in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan as restrictions ease overseas
Express News Service
BHOPAL/JAIPUR: Differences in countries dealing with and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic have had a positive impact on one segment of the Indian economy. Export of certain goods based on handicrafts has picked up, with the US and Europe clawing back to normal.
When most industries in India are gasping in the second wave, shipping of the decorative and ornamental has started afresh.
Carpet exporters of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, gems and jewellery merchants in Rajasthan and those involved with embroidery and wooden lacquerware in Punjab have seen figures rise after a slump last year. Textile exporters have also seen things improve, in parts like Rajasthan’s Bhilwara.
Most of their buyers are in the US and Europe, where the pandemic was at its peak last year. Canada, Australia and the UAE are also among the popular destinations of these products.
The situation demanded exporters to plan differently. A majority of these businesses suffered deep losses in the domestic market since the virus spread and lockdown became the norm. This prompted some of these ventures to take the virtual route and display their ware to customers abroad. With restrictions gradually easing in those countries, these online expos became successful.
Export of handmade carpets from UP and Haryana went up by 17.76 per cent in 2020-21, from Rs 11,799 crore in 2019-2020 to Rs 13,824 crore. After shipping out coloured gemstones worth Rs 127.61 crore last year, exporters in Jaipur witnessed this figure rise to Rs 460.35 crore already in 2021.
Bhilwara’s textile enterprise has also recorded a growth, while Punjab’s handicrafts have staved off losses, clocking exports worth around Rs 3 crore in both years. The Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC, set up by the Union ministry of textiles) held four virtual international fairs, showcasing the most innovative products.
“It not only helped exports stay afloat after the jitters in April-May, 2020, but also helped eliminate the high cost of organising international carpet expos physically in India or abroad,” says outgoing CEPC president and UP-based carpet exporter Siddhnath Singh.
This business is based primarily in Mirzapur and Bhadohi in eastern UP and Panipat in Haryana. According to Singh, over 50 per cent of their market is in the US, 25-28 per cent in European nations and 20-22 per cent in South America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
“By June last year, the debilitating effect of the pandemic started declining, as the Panipat-based carpet units started meeting pending overseas orders. Though data of exports for this April and May is not yet tabulated, the industry is confident it has not been as badly hit in the second wave as in the first. The virtual platform has given us an opportunity,” Singh asserts.
Things are literally glittering in Rajasthan’s handicraft industry. Exports have picked up in a big way in recent months and they continue to provide jobs. In 2020, gems and jewellery exports amounted to Rs 372.95 crore. From March to May this year, the figure has risen to Rs 1,396.24 crore.
“Demand from the foreign markets is growing again. Besides that, with no national lockdown this year, the units in Jaipur, Mumbai and Surat could keep functioning. In April alone, the country exported gems and jewellery worth Rs 25,226.11 crore,” informs Sabyasachi Roy, Director of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
Handicraft exporters also confirmed that figures are going up. Between March and May in 2020, 4,277 containers worth Rs 410 crore were exported. In the same period this year, they have shipped 7,643 containers valued at Rs 730 crore from Jodhpur’s handicraft sector.
Ismail Khan, handicraft exporter in Jodhpur, says markets were open in the UK, other parts of Europe and the US, resulting in increased demand this year. “I am happy that hundreds of artisans were able to feed their families during the tough times.”
Although Punjab’s handicraft dealers have seen sales plunge domestically, exports remaining the same has given them fresh hope.
(With inputs from Harpreet Bajwa)