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Jharcraft gets serious about world ambitions

Ranchi, Aug. 1: Jharcraft’s forays into various world markets, notably the United States and Europe, have been encouraging no doubt, but has always lacked the scale that its handicrafts and exquisite silk creations deserve, given the national success the state-sponsored corporation has enjoyed.

That concern has now been addressed with Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank) CMD T.C.A. Ranganathan certifying that Jharcraft products had the potential of becoming “national champions” in their ability to boost the country’s exports.

“Jharcraft products have elements of difference which distinguish them from other similar products. There is a huge potential for exports and EXIM Bank will set up the right platform in this regard,” he said at a workshop on Quality Control, Branding & Packaging organised by EXIM Bank in association with the government of Jharkhand.

That he was speaking at the event with chief minister Arjun Munda in attendance ensured his words of praise hit home. “Through Jharcraft, we can establish ourselves in the economic map of the country and the world as well,” the chief minister said, for the first time since his May helicopter accident, addressing a gathering while standing.

Jharcraft signed an MoU with EXIM Bank in February according to which the bank would provide a platform for exporting silk and handicraft items to several offshore destinations. Today’s workshop was the first step in that direction.

Jharcraft MD Dhirendra Kumar said the corporation has been exporting silk and handicraft items on demand to over a dozen countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden. But so far, earnings from exports have been meagre, around Rs 4 crore.

Kumar realised that Ranganathan’s certificate to Jharcraft as one of the country’s best, forward looking and modern enterprises would go along way in encouraging his officials and staff right down to the village level entrepreneur — spread over East and West Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan, Godda, Hazaribagh, Ranchi and other districts — who were in the business of handicrafts and silk rearing and weaving.

In his speech, Munda spoke of his government’s efforts to connect with rural masses through the activities of Jharcraft.

An effort in this direction was the state government’s move to set up around 50,000 self-help groups with help from National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD).

State industry secretary A.P. Singh said in the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-12), as many as 10 lakh people were provided jobs in the sector, while the target was to double the figure in the 12th Five Year Plan Period (2012-17).

Today’s workshop saw experts from Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) — director N.C. Saha was also present — impart training to about 200 artisans and master trainers as both Jharcraft and Exim Bank realise that proper packaging, along with professional branding and quality control, were a must to ensure their products were accepted overseas.

For the next two days, a similar programme would be organised at Urban Haat in Hazaribagh where experts would delve at length on quality control of various handicraft products including Dokra metal casting, terracotta and woodcraft.

The chief minister also flagged off a mobile van that would display and sell Jharcraft products in the Santhal Pargana region. More such vans may be introduced in the near future.