Guwahati, May 13: The Centre is mulling a Rs 120-crore special package to rejuvenate the handicrafts sector in the Northeast.
“There has been no scheme till date in the handicrafts sector in an integrated and holistic manner though the region is rich in this sector. To overcome the lacuna, it is proposed to have an inclusive growth scheme for the development and promotion of handicrafts of the region,” North Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation Limited managing director Jagdish Borah told The Telegraph.
The Planning Commission-constituted working group on the handicrafts sector has proposed a special Rs 120-crore scheme for the Northeast in the Twelfth Plan to provide an integrated and inclusive model for the overall development and promotion of the handicrafts.
The total proposed outlay for the country has been kept at Rs 4,519.06 crore.
The Northeast has more than 8.87 lakh artisans employed in the sector with production of around 2.4 lakh units contributing around Rs 500 crore to this sector.
Some of the initiatives, which have been proposed in the special package, are setting up of state design centres, design bank, raw material bank and international craft complex at Guwahati on public-private partnership model.
The important crafts of this region are cane and bamboo, mat weaving, basket making, woodcraft, brass craft, artistic textiles/hand block printing, jewellery, stonework, terracotta and jute products.
The working group said there was a need for dedicated scheme for the region. Despite the good quality of handicrafts and diverse range, the sector has not gained access to the national and international markets, it said.
The handicrafts of this region also suffer on account of logistics problems.
The sector in the region requires assistance to meet the high transport cost, dedicated and exclusive set up for development and promotion of the products, enhanced marketing opportunities through an umbrella organisation, rationalisation of taxes, tariffs and other levies among all states of the region on items of handicrafts and their input materials.
“The target is to convert a strong and skilled workforce of more than 5,000 entrepreneurs into successful marketers/exporters over a passage of three years with the creation of strong backward integration (when an organisation controls subsidiaries that produce some of the inputs used in production) by creating additional employment of more than 5 lakh people in the next five years,” Borah said.
He said some of the major problems that the handloom and handicraft sectors in the region faced are lack of design, innovation and technology upgrade, limited resources for production, distribution and marketing.
The group in its report said one of the objectives was to create northeastern handicrafts and handmade textiles clusters as centres of excellence with well-integrated forward and backward linkages.
“It is also to provide adequate infrastructure to improved quality and productivity and enable entrepreneurs/artisans to access a larger market segment, both domestic and international,” the group said in its report. It added that it would also increase competitiveness of entrepreneurs of the region and their entry into formal economy.