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Kashmiri artisans in distress as exports plummet due to second-wave of covid

Last Updated on April 10, 2021 at 9:47 pm

Fifty-five-year-old Mohammad Suleman is one of many weavers in Baramulla who resumed carpet weaving a while back after two years.

As covid cases witnessed a major slump until few weeks ago, he hired many artisans in his business. However, all his hopes of a ‘normal’ future were crushed as his orders kept on decreasing with a rise in another wave of covid-cases.

He was assured by many dealers that his carpet business will boom up soon but nothing of that sort happened. He has already prepared two carpets in his workshop which are ready to be sold. He is thinking about shifting to another business so that he can earn a living. He is not planning to leave carpet weaving entirely but shifting to some other business temporarily for managing regular expenses.

A major market of handicrafts products is in European and Gulf countries but as second covid wave has arrived, exports have plummeted because people in these countries are not interested in buying exquisite items.

Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, a prominent carpet dealer said that exports have been negatively impacted because of Covid crisis worldwide. The second wave is a bigger threat than the previous one. This has reduced carpet exports to almost zero. Some nations have even stopped placing orders for Kashmir carpet because of rising covid cases. He said that last two years have greatly affected weavers as handicraft exports have been falling consistently. Many European nations have closed their markets.

Umar Hamid, vice-Chairman of Carpet Export Promotion Council of India expressed his concern over failing industry. He said that Covid-19 acted as last nail in the coffin for people who earn their living through Kashmir carpet industry. Dealers are also facing many difficulties. There is a lack of international flights to export these products and whatever options are available, freight charges have increased multiple times.

He said that market has been flooded by cheaper low-quality carpets because of Covid crisis. People in foreign countries are buying cheaper carpets. A government official said that the administration is exploring other markets to sell Kashmir handicrafts. Various programmes and exhibitions are being run to promote handicrafts. The government is expecting that exports will be normal in coming few months.