How ongoing festive season is likely to light up hopes and sales for artisans making handicrafts

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Updated: November 07, 2021 7:37 PM

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Opening up of offline markets, government push to promote local products, and consumers returning to shop variety of handmade products is helping handicrafts sector gain confidence for a better year than 2019.

With unsold stocks piled up due to negligible business last year through direct orders or via exhibitions, artisans were left with a severe cash crunch last year.  (image: Pexels.com)

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Among the worst hit sectors due to the Covid pandemic, handicrafts is expecting renewed growth in domestic sales as well as exports in the ongoing festive season particularly during the current Diwali week and right up to the new year. Opening up of offline markets, government push to promote local products, and consumers returning to shop variety of handmade products is helping handicrafts sector gain confidence for a better year than 2019.

Artisans typically earn anywhere between as low as Rs 4,000 per month to Rs 15,000 or slightly more per month based on the products sold while after Covid, the income was reduced to almost zero for most of them, according to a few artisans Financial Express Online spoke with. With unsold stocks piled up due to negligible business through direct orders or via exhibitions, artisans were left with a severe cash crunch last year. 

“Sale has started to happen in the past three-four weeks but we are nowhere close to the pre-covid level of business. Diwali has brought people out of their homes and given us hope to revive our work. Weekly sales are around Rs 500-600,” said Ravi Kishore from handicraft cluster in Agra. Kishore sells clay cups and mugs. 

Ajay Kamal who runs a small hand embroidery unit of 10 artisans in the Kakrola cluster based in South West Delhi said with the festive season, the demand for embroidered apparel, curtains, bedsheets, etc., has seen a slight uptick. “We hope that our monthly sales touch Rs 50,000-70,000 by end of this year.”

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“The domestic growth is expected to be 10-15 per cent from pre-Covid levels while international growth is likely to be in the similar range of 10-12 per cent this season. After the second wave, market sentiment is very strong. While in exports, gifting products and ornaments are in high demand, within India the sale of electric lamps, table lamps, bed sheets, dry fruit wooden boxes, candles, etc., are some of the top product categories this year. The majority growth is from North India,” Raj Kumar Malhotra, Chairman, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts told Financial Express Online. 

Ministry of Textiles’ Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) has also returned to helping organise marketing events for promoting handicrafts in the past two-three months as Covid subsided and is planning to organise multiple events across states ahead, an official from the DC office told Financial Express Online. 

Delhi-based Craft Village, which organises India Craft Week exhibition for Indian handmade craft products every year, said the sector is now recovering from an approximately 60 per cent average decline in sales due to the pandemic even as the complete recovery is expected next year only. 

“There is a lot of hope among artisans looking at the current Covid situation and vaccination rate. Also, more and more people are becoming vocal about owning handmade things and artisanal products. We expect 25 per cent growth for the sector this year. Fashion is the biggest segment in handicrafts that includes apparel and jewellery in terms of volume. You won’t buy a painting worth thousands or a few lakhs every year. Then there is the home furnishing and decor category with products like cushions, bed sheets, etc. Handicraft culturally indigenous to India,” Iti Tyagi, Founder, Craft Village told Financial Express Online

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Tyagi had received the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar 2018 from President Ram Nath Kovind. The award is given by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to individual women or to institutions that work towards the cause of women empowerment. “In comparison to last year’s online vs offline sales, this year offline sales are higher than online sales. This showed that people want to get back to the normal life of going out to the markets and exploring things. Next year there should be around 20-25 per cent growth in the handicraft sector unless there is a third wave,” added Tyagi.

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