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'Our target is to reach Rs 28,386 cr by the end of 12th Plan'

The Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) has been engaged in making Indian handicrafts popular abroad. It has been undertaking multifarious activities for product development. EPCH executive director Rakesh Kumar shares his ideas with HT.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2011 21:36 IST

Hindustan Times

What has been the turnaround in handicrafts sector?

Handicrafts sector's exports traditionally have been confined to gifts, curios, and decoratives by and large made out of metal, wood, ivory, besides other antique items.

During the last few decades, there has been tremendous turnaround in the product categories and more in the raw material base. Items exported now are not only made out of metal, wood etc. but there is whole lot of other raw material base which are dominating product categories. For example, textile base handicrafts are in the forefront. These comprises of furnishing, fashion wear, bathroom ware, tableware etc. In the metal, accent is now shifted to utility items besides decorative.

Fashion jewellery and accessories made out of different kinds of raw material like metal, wood, threads, bone wear etc. blended with precious and semi precious stones is on demand. Items made out of wood, particularly furniture accessories, household requirement blended with metal and iron etc. are also in demand. Cane and Bamboo products, product made out of natural fibres, banana, hemp, sisal, coconut and various types of other grasses besides jute are considered eco-friendly and in great demand.

What are the new markets being developed by the EPCH?

The traditional world market for handicrafts has been the US, Europe and Japan. Of late, new markets in the regions like Latin America, middle-east, Africa and Central Asia are being cultivated and developed by EPCH on a regular basis by holding exclusive Indian Folk Craft Festivals, Buyer-Seller Meets and Contact Promotion Program-mes, very vigorously. Latin America has already shown great potential. Similarly, middle-east and Central Asian regions are also showing promising prospects. African region particularly the South Africa and neighbouring countries have also potential for India.

What are the new products designed and developed?

Besides others, great efforts have been put in the North Eastern Region to develop and promote handicrafts items made out of cane and bamboo. Various types of furniture items required for household, furniture for hotels, beaches, restaurants and luxury sector has also been developed and promoted. Basketry, screens, table mats and mats for floorings are also finding way to the world markets.

How EPCH is building ‘Brand India’ and creating markets overseas?

Very aggressive programme has been drawn up by EPCH for brand building and creation of market by holding of Indian Folk Craft Festivals in unexplored and under explored markets, organising Buyer-Seller Meets and Contact Promotion Programmes besides participation in established trade exhibitions.

The Indian Folk Craft Festivals normally have three components viz. live demonstration by crafts persons of important crafts of India, display and sale of various types of handicraft items and food festivals accompanied with cultural performance.

What are export target for next five years?

During the 12th Plan starting from 2012-13, average export growth has been kept at 18% per annum. It is planned that at the end of 12th plan in the year 2016-17, the export of handicrafts will be R28,386 crore. Keeping in view the present level of growth in exports of handicrafts in the first seven months of 2011-12, showing a growth of about 20.43% over the previous year, the EPCH is confident of reaching the target of R28,386 crore in the year 2016-17 viz. end of 12th Plan.

First Published: Dec 18, 2011 21:31 IST