During the times of pandemic the handicrafts sector has been one of the worse hit as the demand for products, not only in India but worldwide decreased to an all time low. This resulted into loses worth crores and joblessness for thousands of artisan, craftsmen and small time traders. The situation not only gave rise to huge unemployment but loss of market share for the artistic handicrafts produced in Kashmir.
Now that the situation is witnessing some sanity, the hopes for the artisan and small time traders have come alive with people preferring to buy products through online mode. This mode of trade has given some hope to the artisans who feel that a revival can be round the corner if the government and other stakeholders pitch in and provide their support.
One such effort can be cited from the tie-up between Jammu and Kashmir government and online retail platform ‘Flipkart’ where both have come together to provide an online platform for showcasing and facilitating the local artisans/craftsmen and weavers to reach customers across the globe.
The step is aimed towards the promotion of rural economy and to boost the sale of genuine exotic products of Handicrafts and Handloom sector and find new destinations for niche handmade products from Jammu and Kashmir.
The MoU has ensured that the special webportal “Samarth” of Flipkart will now cater to uncovered products of Handicrafts and Handloom of J&K. The endeavour is seen as a game changer for on-boarding, sale and cataloguing of Handicrafts and Handloom products of J&K.
There is no doubt that the move will expose artisans, crafts-persons and weavers to millions of customers shopping online thereby ensuring efficient marketing that too when virtual marketing has overtaken the physical marketing of goods and services across the globe.
The platform if used effectively will also provide an appropriate opportunity for the momentous growth and development of the handicrafts sector and facilitate e-commerce facility for sale and marketing of the unsold inventories that have piled up due to the pandemic.
The initiative will also eliminate the role of the middleman to a larger extent and will benefit the artisans in a way that the proceeds of the sale of their products shall go directly into their accounts. Initially this tie-up is supposed to cover dozens of products of lower and middle range segments like Paper-mache, Walnut craft gift items, Shawls and Stoles, Embroidery made-ups and Namda Rugs, Chain Stitch wall hangings, Willow wicker, Gabba, etc. Many more craft items shall be added subsequently.
However, one serious question that needs to be answered is how will the artisans and craftsmen who have very little knowledge about e-commerce and the use of internet as a marketing tool, cope with the new business option.
Secondly, with Jammu and Kashmir relying on slow speed internet connectivity will this initiative really help and work to fulfill the needs and demands of the artisans and tradesmen.
The government therefore needs to work on these few impediments before this business model is put into use. We can afford no failures this time round as the handicrafts sector is already gasping for breath.