SRINAGAR: For the record, `Brand Kashmir’ is going places.
For the first time, the GI-certified Kashmir silken carpets have been exported to Germany. Valued at around 40,000 euros, the consignment was flagged off by Principal Secretary, Industry and Commerce on Friday.
The QR code-based Geographic Indication (GI) label has been launched as part of efforts to check the cheating and misbranding that has badly dented the carpet industry of Kashmir
What is QR code-based GI
The QR code-based label captures vital parameters of the carpet including knots per square inch, the material used, etc. This shall be helpful in checking the cheating and misbranding besides helping in building customer trust.
The GI tag was announced after Srinagar made it to the coveted list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Crafts and Folk Arts Category for 2021.
“We have to apply for GI to get user licence and user word. Once we get the user licence we can use the GI tag. We were the first who applied for fit. We were the first to get our carpets GI tagged. Other fellow exporters, who have applied, will get the licence. People are now coming forward,” Sheikh Ashiq, chairman of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Kashmir Monitor.
How to get a QR code
Any carpet dealer can apply for the GI license and get their products checked to increase their brand value. “It’s a process. It is like testing a carpet. It goes through various processes. They test the knottage of the carpet. They check whether silk is superior or inferior. They check every parameter before tagging it. It is QR based. Customers can use their mobile phones and scan QR code. He will get a certificate containing all information. It is not costly. One has to shell out Rs 150 per testing and getting GI tag,” said Ashiq.
Dealers expect GI tagging will push the carpet exports in Jammu and Kashmir. “The production is already under stress due to the falling exports. GI tag will push demand and with a result, production will increase. We hope that rates too will be competitive,” said Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, a dealer.
In 2019-2020 when the Centre abrogated article 370, exports were to the tune of Rs 935.25 crore with the first two quarters covering 40 per cent. The following financial year when COVID-19 hit every sector, handicrafts exports dropped to Rs 635.52 crore.
Last year, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries said handicraft products worth Rs 600 crore were lying unsold in the valley. In fact, the downslide started after 2016 when the valley witnessed one of the biggest lockdowns after the killing of Burhan Wani.
In 2016-17, handicrafts including carpet, shawl, paper machie, crewel, wood carving and worth Rs 1151.12 crore were exported from Jammu and Kashmir.
The exports dropped in 2017-18 when handicrafts valuing 1090.12 crore were exported from Jammu and Kashmir followed by Rs 917.93 crore in 2018-19.
“We have seen a constant drop in exports. I have suggested the government set up a model carpet village in Sumbal, Sonawari. There are 15000 to 20000 weavers living in the village. I have submitted a vision document to the government to infuse new life into the carpet sector,” said Ashiq.
Carpet dealers want the government to give a sense of belonging to the carpet weavers. “We want to package this village in such a manner that buyers from different countries can come and purchase goods. We want to copyright all our designs for posterity. We can elevate the status of the weavers and increase their wages,” he said.