In order to revamp its economy, Kashmir plans to better market handicrafts
Laying stress upon better branding of Kashmir Handicrafts, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called for a concerted effort to overcome challenges in better marketing of hand made products in the burgeoning domestic and international markets. Describing today's entrepreneur as a 'technopreneur' who is ready to take on the world, Sayeed said the export oriented handicraft products will sell like hot cakes, even in wake of fierce competition, if we stick to globally recognised benchmarks in originality and pricing.
Investors should take a cue from the remarkable success of International Buyer-Seller meet held earlier this year that saw enquiries and online bookings reach a new high, Sayeed told a delegation of KCCI which called on him in Srinagar. "Our products will continue to capture foreign markets if we sell them genuine items with certified price tags," he said, while laying stress on GI (Geographical Indication) registration of famed hand-made items", the Chief Minister said.
"Our initiatives on selling original products have seen the markets bracing for the prospect of heavy influx of Kashmir Handicraft", he told the delegation, while emphasising upon enhancing the volume of production to meet huge demand from new emerging markets. Expressing concern over markets swarming with fakes in the name of Kashmir Handicraft, the Chief Minister asked the delegation to play its role in identifying persons who masquerade as sellers of genuine products, thus bringing a bad name to the industry.
He said aggressive marketing is required to make people turn their heads towards products made with such finesse. Kashmir Expo-2015, which attracted business delegates from as many as 21 countries in the summer capital in May, saw sales worth USD 700,000 made on the first two days. On the issue of preserving art of making handicraft products like carpets, paper machie, shawls and wood work, Sayeed said the government will make all out efforts to promote the interests of artisans, who possess the rare skill of creating globally acclaimed products.
"To make the activity economically viable for them, we will bring nearly 3.5 lakh artisans under the ambit of Artisan Credit Card Scheme, on the pattern of Kisan Credit Card that has seen farmers access soft loans worth Rs 200 crore", he said. The Chief Minister observed that handicraft industry will not grow to its full potential unless the artisans, who make these products with such dexterity, continue to work in difficult conditions.
"We need to emulate CSR concept by working on a mechanism to improve economic returns of our artisans", he said. Spelling out his plans to broaden the scope of cross LoC trade, the Chief Minister said a business delegation from J&K will soon visit PoK, for which the state is pursuing clearance with the Union Home Ministry. He said full body scanners will be installed at the Trade Facilitation Centres at Salamabad (Uri, Baramulla) and Chakan da Bagh (Poonch) for swift in and out movement of trucks, post security checks.
On the issue of promoting export oriented horticulture sector, Sayeed called for establishing a chain of CA stores across the state to increase the shelf life of fruits, in particular apple and pear, enabling us to enter foreign markets even during 'off season'. He said the state's new industrial policy will focus on value additions in fruit processing industry to access the untapped sector.
The KCCI delegation, led by its President Sheikh Ashiq, presented a memorandum of demands to the Chief Minister, which included establishment of a Handicraft and Handloom Cluster, broadening of cross LoC trade and bringing 'Business with Ease' in Horticulture and Floriculture sectors.
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