Nepali handicrafts’ USP wows ’em all

Kathmandu, October 24:

Handicraft sector is a major foreign currency earner but those in it are disheartened by what they see as lack of government concern and absence of promotion policies. Yet, the weeklong Handicraft Promotion Fair that opened on October 19 has evoked positive reactions from both sellers and buyers regarding Nepali handicrafts.

Pushkarman Shakya, president of the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal (FHAN), said, “We are happy that manufacturers of new products are also participating. The response from buyers and vistors is overwhelming.”

He pointed out that the sector was hit by the lack of plans and promotional policies at the government level. “There is no industrial plan either. Marketing the handicrafts is an expensive task in itself, and when is the compulsion of buying raw materials from outside it is difficult to compete with the lower-priced products from India and other countries,” he said. Shakya added, “We have got special products. Earlier, handicraft products were somewhat crude but now these are getting quite artistic and detailed. This is our USP for impressing buyers.”

Prafulla RajBhandari of Praangan Décor Art and Craft said, “We have to import fabric and enamel paints from India to colour wooden carvings. Thus, the cost of our products is higher than the same items made in India. We need a supportive government policy.”

Radha Shakya, proprietor of Himalayan Bead Crafts said, “In terms of quality, we are unbeatable but where we fail is in the higher prices of our beadcrafts. We have to buy beads and other necessary materials to prepare beadcrafts and the problem is raw materials are available in Nepal.”

Woodcraft Association of Nepal (WAN) executive member Baburaj Awale said, “Here, in the handicraft fair, we have got an opportunity to contact exporters directly. Normally, we have to route products via agents, but it is a costly affair. This exhibition has definitely narrowed the existing gap between the exporters and the manufacturers.”