EPCH — Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts is an apex body set up by the Ministry of Textiles in 1986 to coordinate, develop and promote handicraft exports. In an interview with HT, Rakesh Kumar Executive Director talks about the role of his organisation in promoting exports. Excerpts:
How has EPCH helped in boosting exports of handicrafts?
EPCH has adopted a very comprehensive integrated strategy, which has over the years resulted in boosting exports of handicrafts from Rs 387 crore in 1986-87 to Rs 8,718.94 crore in 2009-10 thereby earning foreign exchange for country and in turn increasing employment opportunities for the economically and socially backward sections of the society.
What has been the progress of India’s handicraft exports?
India’s handicraft exports registered an average growth of 15% per annum except in the last three years when the world faced global economic slowdown. Handicrafts, which was originally confined to curios, gifts, antiques and similar other items are now a very diversified range varying from utility items for day-to-day household use to lifestyle products etc. The product development journey has been vast and wide ranging.
How has economic slowdown affected handicraft exports?
Handicraft exports suffered the most during the economic slowdown. Exports which stood at Rs 14,012 crore in 2007-08, went down to Rs. 8,183 crore in 2008-09. The reason was the affect slowdown in big markets of handicrafts like the US and Europe.
What measures have been taken by EPCH and government to overcome the affects of slowdown?
EPCH was very pro-active in dealing with the effects of slowdown and represented the cause of handicrafts sector ... at the highest level. The constant representation resulted in the announcement of a package by Indian government to revive economy and specially focusing on the employment generative sector like handicrafts. The Foreign Trade Policy has also acknowledged the importance of the this sector ...
What is the future strategy?
Under future strategy, the emphasis will be on capacity development, design and product development, creation of infrastructural facilities and International marketing. Specific design and product development schemes will help in creating products that caters to likes and preferences of international buyers...