Srinagar: Forty-two-year-old shawl weaver Fayaz Ahmad Wani of Kanihama is a worried man.
Known for his needlework, Wani is struggling to meet his ends post-pandemic situation.
Once having his own looms and earning Rs 1 lakh in six months, he is struggling to meet his basic needs.
“I gave up studies and started weaving shawls. I used to earn good money. I had my own loom. Come Pandemic, everything has gone for a toss. Once I was employing people and today I work for a dealer who pays me Rs 40,000 per shawl,” he said.
Wani said the demand for the shawls has dropped, which has affected his earnings also. “Shawls are made in good numbers but the demand is very less,” he said.
50 percent dip in shawl exports
As per the figures compiled by the Department of Handicrafts and Handloom the export of shawls has dropped by 50 percent.
From Rs 305.90 crore in 2018-19, the exports declined to Rs Rs 172.53 crore in 2020-21.
In Wani’s village, the majority of the artisans and dealers claim that their trade has been hit hard in the last two years.
“All artisans of this village are suffering. We appeal to the government to help us so that we can support our families,” said Shabir Ahmad, another artisan.
Kashmir Pashmina Organisation (KPO), an apex body of weavers, dealers, and exporters, said the shawl industry is going through tough times. “Most of the shawls in the last two years are lying in godowns unsold. From artisans to dealers, everyone has been hit,” said Musadiq Shah, senior vice-president, KPO.
He said the government needs to hold exhibitions worldwide to boost exports.
What is the government doing?
Director Handicrafts and Handloom department Mahmood Ahmad Shah said they missed many exhibitions due to the pandemic.
“Pandemic has affected every sector so are handicraft exports,” he said.
He said the government is holding many programmes and exhibitions to boost handicraft exports.
Pertinently, the department last month held exhibitions at Noida Haat. A large number of artisans and dealers from Kashmir participated.