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Pennies Worth

Last time you bought any kind of handicraft do you remember what it cost, and what was your reaction after knowing its price. Not only agricultural sector but handicraft industry is also infected by middle men problem. Many ground level artisans don’t even know the price at which their product is being sold to the final consumer. It is known fact middle men play a crucial role in the sales of the handicraft. Artisans don’t know how to market their product so they usually take help of these middle men who tend to exploit them. Another problem being faced by artisans is the grave problem of weak supply chain. These artisans fail to understand the logistics of this business. To solve this they contact middle men for help, who source their handicrafts to the final consumers.

Marketing remains the biggest issue among most of the artisans. In first case they don’t know how to market, but if in some case they do know what to market and whom the market the product they don’t have enough resources to do that. Many artisans don’t even know who are their target consumers. They try to sell their product to everyone in front of them. Many NGOs help these artisans in marketing and selling their products. NGO’s create a pool artisans and organise  exhibitions inviting potential buyers and critics. These exhibitions work in two ways; one it helps in selling these products and second it leads to word of mouth marketing. The invited critics would write blogs which would lead to creation of awareness among the potential buyers. These NGO’s exist for the betterment of these artisans. They don’t operate as stereotypical middle men who try to make profit out of these poor artisans. Many a times artisans group receive orders from government and these orders are usually huge. After receiving the order the government takes close to a year to pay these artisans.  

Madhubani painting which is generally done by the women self help groups. They receive a small margin of profit and these women are not aware of the prices at which these are sold in the international market. It is known fact that madhubani paintings fetch close to Rs.60000-70000 in the international market and the true artists get a very marginal amount of the profit earned. So artisans are left with no incentive to work upon and that’s why many artisans are pursuing other odd jobs which might push our handicraft culture into a black hole.

Government involvement:

Handicrafts constitute an important segment of the decentralised or unorganised sector of our economy. It is mainly a rural based sector which has its reach in backward and inaccessible areas. Handicrafts have big potential as they hold the key for sustaining not only the existing set of millions of artisans, but also for increasingly large number of new entrants in the crafts activity. Presently, handicraft sector is contributing substantially towards employment generation and exports but this sector has suffered due to its un-organized nature along with additional constraints like lack of education, capital, and poor exposure to new technologies, absence of market intelligence and poor institutional framework. At present, the office of Development Commissioner (Handicraft) is implementing the following seven schemes for promotion and development of handicraft sector:

  • Baba Saheb Hastshilp Vikas Yojana
  • Design and Technology Up-gradation
  • Marketing Support and Services
  • Research and development
  • Human and Resource Development
  • Handicrafts Artisans Comprehensive Welfare Scheme
  • Infrastructure and Technology Development Scheme

When you will talk to true artisan he or she will tell you how government was helpful in older days as compared to now. Now a days government is inviting more on inviting big multi national companies to operate in favoured circumstances in India. If government puts same ounces of focus on handicraft industry then the artisans may not be forced to leave the traditional art in order to feed their family. While talking to one of artist he said that in the 80’s and 90’s government was very supportive to handicraft industry. There was active involvement by the government in the handicraft industry. Government took active involvement in the promotion and marketing of their traditional handicraft all over the globe. Afterwards all these efforts started fading away.

But lately again Government has started focusing on handicraft manufacturing. The establishment of an Integrated Handicraft Park will provide a permanent platform for the bringing together of the urban populace and crafts communities. The purpose of setting up of Park is to setup an integrated facility which would facilitate the production, finishing, packaging and sale of craft articles.

Mega cluster approach of ministry of textile is a Drive to scale up the infrastructural and production chain at Handicrafts clusters which have remained unorganised and have not kept pace with the modernisation and development that have been taking place so far. Consequently, there has not been any addition of fresh impetus of development and optimum realisation of output in the handicrafts sector, which is not only the backbone of long traditional heritage and cultural linkages. The prospect of this sector lies in infrastructural improvement, modernisation of the tools, machinery, process and product diversification and creating strong brands. Innovative designs as well as technical know-how, furthered by brand building of the native products hold the key to creating a niche market for the products manufactured by the clusters. The proposed programme is expected to support the Up gradation of infrastructural facilities coupled with market linkages and product development & diversification.

The objective is to develop these two clusters with world-class infrastructure. The guiding principle behind the design of clusters would be to create world-class infrastructure that caters to the business needs of the local artisans & SMEs to boost production and export. In brief, the main objective of setting up these clusters is to assist the artisans & entrepreneurs to set up world-class units with modern infrastructure, latest technology, and adequate training and HRD inputs, coupled with market linkages and production diversification.


Future of Handicrafts

Many middle men have grown exponentially over the years in these few years and they have root level artisans in mind while allocating profits. These middle men have completely transformed the handicraft industry. They are many niche export houses just focusing on handicrafts. These export houses are doing really well with a yearly revenue of 80 crore to 90 crore. Most demanded Indian handicraft are:

  • Indian Home Decor
  • Handmade Sarees, other hand made products
  • Furniture, home textiles and home ware
  • Precious gems and jewelleries
  • Imitation jewellery

Most of the exports demand come from North America and Europe. Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat are The biggest exporters of Indian handicrafts are the following. The ASSOCHAM Economic Research Bureau (AERB) has arrived at the aforesaid projection on the basis of average of CAGR of India's handicrafts exports (5.3 per cent) and world merchandise exports that have grown at CAGR of about nine per cent during 2011-12 and 2021-22. Clocking a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 5.3 per cent during the 11 years period between 2011-12 and 2021-22 India's handicrafts exports had crossed Rs 12,900 crore mark in FY 2011-12, noted a study titled 'Infusing vibrancy into Indian handicrafts sector’. There are many e-commerce sites sprouting around handicraft manufacturing. E-commerce has really helped handicraft industry in many ways. These websites don’t only focus on customers from India but abroad too. There are many websites just for the customers in North America or customers from Europe. These e-commerce websites have removed the use  middle men by the artisans. Like at Indianlifestory we directly source the handicrafts from the artisans and these artisans are grass root level and sell it to final consumers.

In order to improve the current situation of the handicraft industry government needs to play an important role. As mentioned above there are many schemes approved by the but their execution is not in desired way. Handicraft industry is mostly unorganised and employs and many people. Government is aware that handicraft industry has huge potential and everyone is positive that government and private firms would take some solid steps to establish this industry so that It could be major contributor to the GDP.