Lack of government support and lower wages have translated into fall in new employment in the village industries in Gujarat. Data compiled by the Socio-Economic Review 2017-18 shows that employment in the village industries went down by 69% in 2016-17 in Gujarat. This, experts opine, is on account of young people migrating from rural areas to cities in search of better earning prospects as they do not find village industries business attractive. “Governments are providing many schemes and subsidies through the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
However, importance is being given to the khadi sector hence there is nothing much in these schemes for village industries. As a result, artisans and labours are moving to other places for earning, If this trend continues, more job losses are possible in coming days” said Bharat Patel of Ahmedabad-based Sanskruti Khadi Gramodyog Pratisthan. As per the Socio-Economic Review 2017-18, employment in the village industries had gone down by 69% to 64,515 people in 2016-17 from 207,589 people in 2015-16 in Gujarat. The review data suggest that value of output in village industries was Rs 736.55 crore in 2015-16 which decreased by 13.49% to Rs 637.41 crore in 2016-17. Similarly, sales have declined by 19.29% to Rs 721.82 crore from Rs 894.39 crore in
the said period.
One big challenge in the village industries is lack of marketing support and this has restricted new entrepreneurs to venture into the village industry. Patel said, “As the marketing of village industries products is not done properly by both the government and industry, entrepreneurs invested in it are not making much profit. New generation entrepreneurs avoid village industries because of lower return. Private companies and brands are doing very well and we can not compete with them due to poor marketing of our products by the government.”
Khadi and village industries institutions had suggested that the government appoint a private marketing agency to promote village industries products but so far there is no positive reply. According to the Gujarat State Khadi Gram Udhyog Board, the state government has stopped several schemes for individuals of village industries, and as a result, employments have fallen in this segment. An official of the board said, “It is a fact that the employment data is negative for village industries. Several state government schemes have stopped which could be one of the reasons for the fall in employment.”
According to khadi and village industries institutions, wages are the biggest issue with the industries. On an average, artisan workers can earn about Rs 5,000-6,000 a month which is not sufficient for livelihood. While in any other industry, workers average earning is about Rs 9,000-12,000 per month. Chandrakant Patel, secretary of Gondal-based Udyog Bharti, said, “Artisans and labourers are leaving this business as wages are lower. We have suggested to the government to increase the minimum wages. The state and central governments need to focus on better wages.”