Srinagar, Aug 24: Since ages, handicrafts have remained the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy however the vital industry is now under the threat of extinction due to Covid-19 and introduction of machines.
Experts believe that a handicraft besides being the backbone of the economy also plays a pivotal role in the preservation of traditional art, heritage, culture, and skills of the region.
Artisans from different areas of Kashmir said that due to Covid-19 and introduction of power looms, this industry is under threat.
They said that due to Covid-19, tourists aren’t visiting Kashmir and there is very less demand for handicraft products due to which artisans have left their traditional work and got associated with other works to feed their families.
“As old artisans have left this work due to very low demand from the last two or three years now, the new generation is hardly interested in it,” artisans said.
Ali Mohammed, a pashmina weaver from South Kashmir, told KNO that Covid-19 has hit the handicraft industry especially the pashmina and shawl weavers.
“There has been very low demand for our products for the last three years. Most of the artisans have switched to some other businesses to earn their livelihood,” he said. “The introduction of machines has further daunted this industry as customers are unable to differentiate between handmade and machine made products.”
Ali said that the middlemen often sell machine made products at the name and cost of handmade products which is further downgrading the image of handicraft.
Experts said that this industry is not in its full bloom due to lack of a Kashmiri brand, obsolete designs, exploitative middlemen, introduction of machine-made fabrics, low capital, poor exposure to new technologies, absence of market intelligence, poor infrastructure.
They said that the Covid-19 had further aggravated the problems experienced by this sector.
There are about 2.5 lakhs artisans who are directly dependent upon this sector for their livelihood.
The handicraft products of Kashmir include carpets, shawls, wood carving items, chain stitch items, papier machie, crewel and namdha.