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Handloom Industry


Handloom Industry and Exports

The handloom sector of India is one of the biggest unorganized economic activities. The handloom industry in India has a long tradition of outstanding artisanship that represents and preserves vibrant Indian culture. India's handloom artists are globally known for their unique hand spinning, weaving and printing style. They are based out of small towns and villages of the country which transfer skills from one generation to the next. The handloom industry is the country's largest cottage industry, with 23.77 lakh looms. It is also the second-largest employment provider in the rural region employing more than 3 million people in direct and allied activities.
India produces several traditional products such as sarees, kurtas, shawls, ghaghracholis, lungies, fashion accessories, bedspreads, etc. In the contemporary product category, the country produces fashion fabrics, western dresses, bed linens, drapes, kitchen linen, decorative furnishings and rug durries, etc. The handloom sector of India has the advantage of being less capital intensive, eco-friendly, having less power consumption and the ability to adapt to market conditions.
According to the Handloom Census 2019-20, the industry employs about 3,522,512 handloom workers across the country. The industry primarily employs women workers with a share of 72.29% of the total handloom workers.
The majorly exported handloom products from India are mats and mattings, carpets, rugs, bedsheets, cushion covers and other handloom articles. During 2020-21, the mats and mattings exported from the country had a share of 29% in the total exports. The home textile constitutes over 60% of India's total handloom exports. Carpets, rugs and mats made from handlooms had a total share of 13.6% in total exports during 2020-21 at a value of Rs. 224.4 crore (US$ 28 million). During the same period, the cotton durries exported were valued at Rs. 104.53 crore (US$ 13 million).
Indian silk scarves are popular around the world. These handloom made products form a sizable chunk of the total handloom exports with 2020-21 exports at Rs. 61.5 crore (US$ 7.7 million). The total linen products made from handlooms, i.e. cotton, bed linen, toilet linen, kitchen linen, bed sheets, napkins, pillowcases, cushion cases, table cloths, etc. had a share of about 23.5% in 2020-21 exports.
The major handloom export centers are Karur, Panipat, Varanasi & Kannur where handloom products like Bed linen, Table linen, Kitchen linen, Toilet linen, Floor coverings, embroidered textile materials, curtains etc. are produced for export markets. During April 2021-February 2022, India exported handloom products worth Rs. 1,693 crore (US$ 229 million).
India exports handloom products to more than 20 countries in the world. Some of the top importers are the US, the UK, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany, France, South Africa, Netherlands and UAE. US is the biggest importer of handloom products from India, consistently the top importer for the past 8 years. During 2020-21, the country imported handloom products worth Rs. 613.78 crore (US$ 83 million). The exports to the UK, which was the second largest importer of handloom from India during 2020-21 increased by 9.7% to Rs. 140.2 crore (US$ 19 million) from Rs. 123.13 crore (US$ 17.3 million) during 2019-20.
The exports of handloom products to Australia and Spain during 2020-21 were valued at Rs. 79 crore (US$ 10.7 million) and Rs. 74.5 crore (US$ 10 million), respectively. The exports to Australia during 2020-21 increased by 35% over the last year. The exports to South Africa, Netherlands, Sweden, Japan and UAE during 2020-21 was US 6.5 million, 5.4 million, US$ 4.6 million, US$ 4.4 million and US$ 3.4 million, respectively.
Some of the other handloom importers from India are Canada, Brazil, Greece, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Thailand and Sri Lanka. During 2020-21, these countries accounted for 8.6% of India's total handloom exports at Rs. 141 crore (US$ 19.1 million).
a) National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP)
The NHDP programme has several components that focus on various stages of the handloom business. The Cluster Development Programme (CDP) provides financial benefits to clusters and during 2021-22, assisted 66 clusters. In addition to this, the government provides Handloom Marketing Assistance (HMA), the Urban Haats scheme and handloom awards to develop the industry and encourage businesses in India. For the development of mega handloom clusters, the Government of India plans to provide financial assistance of Rs. 30 crore (US$ 3.9 million) to at least 10,000 handlooms.
b) Market Access Initiative (MAI)
The MAI, launched in 2018, was revised in 2021 and will be in effect till March 2026. This scheme will act as a catalyst to promote India's exports on a sustained basis. MAI is based on a produce specific approach with market studies and research on evolving the markets. The main activities of this initiative are marketing the products internationally, building capacity, supporting the statuary compliances, carrying out studies, developing projects, providing portal for foreign trade facilitation and also support the smaller and traditional industries. Through the MAI, various components (Trade fairs, exhibitions, market research, buyer-seller meets, etc.) of industry development will have specific ceiling budgets.
The Handloom Export Promotion Council (HEPC)
The HEPC was formed in 1965 and is a not-for-profit organization. The council supports and promotes the export of Indian handloom fabrics by undertaking market studies and trade missions, disseminating information, advising governments and providing guidance and consultancy to exporters. The HEPC also organizes and participates in international trade fairs and buyer-seller meets in India and abroad.

Source: India Brand Equity Foundation

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