Call to develop handicraft sector

Kathmandu, August 25:

Experts and industry captains today urged the government to develop Nepali handicrafts saying that the sector, a major foreign currency earner, was in need of better initiatives for its enhancement. They added that handicrafts export was a major prop of the country’s economy and that the government should look to the improvement of this sector.

Speaking at a programme organised by Federation of Handicrafts Association of Nepal (FHAN) and Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai said, “We are in the process of preparation of the budget and are collecting suggestions for it as well. I think the Nepali handicraft sector is one that can blossom in the international market, as it is one of its own kind and can be a major factor in the development of the economy.”

Assuring those engaged in the handicraft business of the development of Nepali handicrafts, Dr Bhattarai said, “Development of this sector should be brought about by a public-private partnership, and we are trying our level best to put an end to the monopoly system and create job-oriented opportunities for the rural segment of the population.”

“To bring the economy of Nepal at par with the international level, important core areas like agriculture, tourism and water resources as well as handicrafts should be given a boost,” he added.

According to recent data provided by FHAN, Nepali handicrafts furnish Rs 3 billion in foreign currencies and provides employment opportunities to about nine per cent of the total population, ie. around 1 million people.

FHAN president Pushkar Man Shakya said, “Recent years’ export data of Nepali handicrafts shows the market for these is continuously increasing over the last 25 years and the local market for handicrafts is more than Rs 4 billion.”

He added that this sector needed small investment and could generate immense employment opportunities for the rural people. Since this sector requires only simple technology, people engage in farming also while working in this sector.

Janak Raj Joshi, secretary to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies said, “This is an indigenous sector. We are concerned about development of the sector along with changes in the state policy.”

He pointed out that many countries were taking initiatives regarding betterment of their handicrafts business and were competing handsomely. “Therefore, I think that rather than waiting for the government to take up the issue, both the government and the handicrafts association should make a joint effort,” he said.

Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) president Kush Kumar Joshi said, “We are facing the problem of non-tariff barriers, branding and poor quality control. The non-tariff barrier must be removed and better policies should be adopted.” He added, “We need is a detailed study of this sector, so that we can plan the future course of action in order to carve a niche for Nepali handicrafts in the world market.”