Two virtual expos breathe life into Bhadohi’s carpet industry with 250-cr orders

Hindustan Times, Varanasi | By
Oct 08, 2020 06:43 PM IST

Bhadohi and its neighbouring districts, including Mirzapur, Varanasi and certain pockets of Chandauli, together make up a carpet hub that accounts for ₹7,000 crore of India’s annual export of ₹12,000 crore.

Bhadohi’s handmade carpet exporters, whose business had plunged amid the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, received a much-needed shot in the arm after foreign buyers placed orders worth 250 crore recently, Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) chairman Siddhnath Singh said Thursday.

A carpet weaver at work in Mirzapur.(HT PHOTO)
A carpet weaver at work in Mirzapur.(HT PHOTO)

The orders came on the heels of two virtual exhibitions organized by the CEPC.

“The pandemic badly hit carpet export due to which there was an extremely disappointing scenario in the carpet industry. There were no orders from foreign buyers from February till mid-August this year. Carpet manufacturers, exporters, workers and weavers all were upset due to it,” Singh said.

“In July, the carpet manufacturers suggested an international virtual exhibition to draw foreign buyers to get the industry going. Thereafter, the first ever international virtual carpet expo was held from August 21 to August 26,” he said.

“Nearly 365 overseas buyers from 61 countries and 191 buyers’ representatives from across the world visited the virtual carpet expo and evinced interest in handmade carpets and floor coverings. In fact, the virtual expo infused fresh life into the carpet industry,” Singh further says.

Overwhelmed by the response, the CEPC organised a second international virtual carpet expo-cum-international buyers/sellers meet from September 29 to October 1 with special focus on Oceania markets. The second exhibition also received an overwhelming response.

“The two exhibitions together brought orders worth about 250 crores from the foreign buyers,” Singh said.

Oceania is a geographic term referred to the region comprising Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and several other island nations in the surrounding area.

The idea behind the virtual meet of buyers and sellers was to bridge the gap between Indian handmade carpet products and their demand across the globe in the post pandemic period.

India exports carpets worth about 12,000 crore annually. Bhadohi and its neighbouring districts, including Mirzapur, Varanasi and certain pockets of Chandauli, together make up a carpet hub that accounts for 7,000 crore of the exports, according to CEPC data.

Singh said the virtual exhibitions have emerged as a potential platform for carpet export promotion.

Echoing a similar view, senior CEPC member and carpet manufacturer Umesh Gupta said, “There has been around 10 per cent increase in the business ever since the first exhibition took place in August.”

“Covid-19 has changed the world forever. Carpet industry and business sector are no exception. International buyers cannot come and exporters cannot visit foreign lands to showcase our products. Under such circumstances, the virtual platform has been proved to be a boon for us. We exhibited both handmade and factory manufactured carpets in the virtual expos,” said Gupta who has received more than 10 orders from the international buyers.

Alpa Mewawala, a Bhadohi-based carpet exporter, also endorsed the virtual expo.

“The virtual expo was a pretty good experience. Several international buyers watched and inquired about the carpets. Of them, five placed orders including two each from Sweden and Germany and one from the USA. Besides, potential international buyers inquire about our products almost daily.”

Buoyed by the overwhelming response, the CEPC has decided to organise four more international virtual carpet exhibitions in the next two months.

Of them, two exhibitions, including one each for Canada and Latin American countries, will be held in November and one each for Persian Gulf countries and Europe will be held in December.

The carpet hub of Bhadohi generates direct and indirect employment to about 10 lakh people, including over three lakh weavers.

Among the carpet weavers, over 50 per cent are women.

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    Sudhir Kumar is Varanasi based senior staff correspondent.He covers all developments, politics, education--primary, secondary and higher -- crime, offbeat, tribes and human angle stories

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