Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government is working hard to get geographic indication (GI) certification for Kashmir willow bats, which has a huge demand in the national and international market.
Kashmir valley is the only place in the country where willow trees are grown. But despite that, the sports industry is controlled by traders in Punjab and Meerut. Ironically no cricketer has ever used Kashmiri willow bats in any international tourney, which has demoralized the bat makers of the valley.
Waking up to the problems, the government is now working to get GI tag for Kashmir willow so that the locally made cricket bats could be marketed at the international level.
Director Industries and Commerce, Nazim Zai Khan told The Kashmir Monitor that they are planning to promote Kashmir cricket bat industry in a big way
“Planning has been there for a long time to promote Kashmir willow bats. There is a huge demand for Kashmir willow, but plastic is gradually overtaking it. So willow bats need immediate branding so that the industry is preserved,” he said.
Khan said Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce recently visited the bat manufacturers and it was decided that the industry needs to be preserved and promoted.
According to DIC figures, there are 400 cricket bat manufacturing units functional in the south Kashmir region. Of which 200 units are operational in Anantnag and 180 others in Pulwama. As many as 32 lakh cricket bats are exported from Kashmir to other states annually.
With an annual turnover of more than Rs 100 crore, the cricket bat industry provides livelihood to thousands of people in Jammu and Kashmir. Low demand and the dearth of raw material are making things difficult for the bat manufacturers.
In absence of proper branding, the price of the Kashmiri cricket bat ranges between Rs 250 to 1200. English willow bat, which is mostly used by national and international players, however, is sold at Rs 35,000 to 50,000.
Similarly, willow wicker works too is being planned to be brought under Geographic Indication.
Director handicrafts department Mahmood Ahmad Shah told The Kashmir Monitor that they have enlisted wicker among the 12 products for which they will be seeking Geographic Indication.
“Wickerwork has a distinct identity. We have identified 12 products for which we will seek GI tagging. These include wicker, Gabba, Namda, Copperware, Crewel, and others,” he said.
Wicker products have a huge demand across the country and the handicrafts department organizes exhibitions every year to showcase this art. It is also exported to different countries and earns foreign exchange for the nation.