India aims for high-value carpet market

Tuesday, 17 December 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India hopes to grab a bigger share of the high-value global market for hand-knotted carpets.

It's a far cry from the days when the country was a major exporter of only low and medium-value carpets.

After a three-year joint endeavour of the government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), around 40 exporters are ready to tap the high-value carpet segment, Tinoo Joshi, development commissioner of handicrafts in the textiles ministry, said here Monday.

"Moving away from the Persian influence, we have developed new designs that are inspired by Indian motifs from miniature paintings, Indian architecture, folk arts, gems and jewellery. Our aim is to create a niche in the high-value segment where India is currently positioned in the sixth place, though it is the third largest exporter of carpets in terms of volume," said Joshi.

A two-day conference and exhibition has been organised in the capital to showcase the finished products of the joint endeavour. The display will move next month to the Oriental Rug Show in Atlanta.

Also on display will be new tools developed by Delhi's Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) that considerably remove the drudgery of carpet weavers while providing a better finish to end product using natural vegetable dyes and mostly indigenous material.

"The project has certainly helped in regaining our faded identity in the world carpet market and will establish an Indian identity," said Kuldeep R. Wattal, chairman of the Carpet Export Promotion Council.

Of the global trade in knotted carpets worth 143.30 billion, India's share in 2001-02 was just 17 percent with production of 26.80 billion and exports of 24.36 billion. Iran is the top exporter in terms of volume, followed by China and Turkey in terms of value.

Despite a global slowdown that has impacted exports of most countries last year, the Indian carpet trade continued to grow from 23.15 billion in 2000-01 to 24.36 billion last year, said Wattal.

Exports this fiscal have grown over the corresponding period of April-August the last year to reach 8.05 billion.

Belying the optimism of the industry, Textiles Secretary S. B. Mohapatra said: "The carpet industry is in deep crisis and is faced with near stagnant growth. With other countries marching ahead with output and value addition, India faces serious competition."

The UNDP sponsored project, which is likely to be extended for another three years, has for the first time brought 18 designers to work together with exporters and manufacturers to create a new Indian designs identity for the target market.

This holds great potential for the carpet weavers' clusters in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and some other regions, said Mohapatra.

Under the project, the first Indian carpet design institute has been set up in Bhadoi in Uttar Pradesh. Nine more permanent training centres and two satellite institutes are planned to give a further boost to the carpet industry that employs around three million people.

To help India get over the child labour stigma, a British certifying agency is being roped in to help exporters position their products better.

"Other than the thrust on new designs, new tools and other value additions, we are bringing in a gender element by focusing on employment of more women in the trade for better value addition," said Joshi.

This is expected to help women in Uttar Pradesh come to the forefront of the industry and improve the income of their families.
Source: IANS
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