‘Multiple challenges plague handicrafts sector’

‘Multiple challenges plague handicrafts sector’

The production of handicrafts is the largest source of income (after agriculture) among rural population. An estimated 18 million craftsmen are expected to be engaged in craft production by 2022, said Sudha Shivkumar, committee member, Craft Council of India (CCI).

“But data from unofficial sources indicate that up to 200 million craftsmen depend on the craft sector for a livelihood, suggesting the need for a more rigorous mapping and understanding of the craft sector.” 

She was speaking at the inauguration of Kamala Gallery, established in commemoration of the doyen of the handicrafts-Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay at Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village Museum in Manipal on Monday.

Production estimates indicate the size of the sector as roughly Rs 302.57 billion, with Rs 168.58 billion generated through export of handicrafts and handloom products and there is a growing demand, she said.

However, multiple challenges plague the sector preventing it from achieving its true potential, in an inclusive manner, she added.

Speaking about the challenges being faced by the sector, Sudha said challenges include unorganised nature of the sector, a fragmented value chain, absence of quality raw materials, poor production facilities, limited marketing capabilities, stressed finances, poor technology and inadequate linkages to markets and consumers. Some traditional crafts are now “in the hands of an ageing population” and at risk of fading away. These skills will only survive if they are passed on to the new generation.

Theatreperson Prasanna Heggodu, who inaugurated the Kamala Gallery, said that it was sad that the people of coastal region had forgotten Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay who hailed from this region.

He said that Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay was a national-level political leader and was well known to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. She had started national drama school and so her contribution should be remembered, he said.