5 trends: Indian handicraft sector to an upsurge in 2022

The future of Indian handicrafts looks promising in days to come thanks to effective government schemes, advent of special platforms, technology coming to the rescue and a host of other things.

Indian handicrafts are the embodiment of our country’s diverse culture and rich heritage. Indian artists sculpt their particular art into forms that can be passed down to future generations using finely articulated designs to bring forth a legacy of their land and culture. Not surprisingly, today, the handicrafts industry is very important to the Indian economy, revolutionising the lives of millions of people around the country, since it is one of the greatest job creators and contributes significantly to the country’s export. Handicraft exports are heavily influenced by state and regional clusters. According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian handicrafts sector is fragmented with over seven million regional craftsmen and 67,000 exporters/export houses, promoting regional art and craftsmanship in domestic and international markets. Let’s delve deeper to explore why the sector is all set to upsurge in 2022.

The growing prominence of the industry

For decades, the industry has served as the backbone of India’s rural economy. It employs a large number of people in rural and semi-urban areas who are skilled craftspeople. Handicrafts also provide significant foreign exchange while conserving the country’s cultural legacy. The handicraft sector has risen dramatically over the years, thanks to the government’s persistent promotional and growth efforts. According to the Ministry of Textiles, the industry has been growing at a constant rate of 20 per cent per year and currently employs over 68.86 lakh craftspeople. The following causes are transforming the face of the Indian handicraft industry and will assist it in establishing a global presence in the future:

Tech to the rescue

Undoubtedly, technological advancements have become the sole choice of survival for each and every industry, especially in such unprecedented times, and the handicraft sector is no different. Technology that allows people to communicate across borders has certainly benefited the handicraft sector. If one has a product to provide, acquiring a global customer is no longer a faraway possibility. E-commerce has paved the way for easy access to consumer goods, enabling inclusive growth by allowing producers from all over the world to promote their offerings on these online marketplaces. Even social media platforms are assisting in the global marketing of Indian handicrafts.

Changed behaviour of craftsmen

Multi-pronged solutions are required to address the challenges and issues that Indian handcraft makers face. The good news is that there is already a market in place, and other markets are forming. Artisans adapt to new abilities and make items that match new market demands in order to increase their revenue. As a result of the arrival of technology and the convenience it offers to their table, there has been a substantial shift in the behaviours of handcraft vendors and customers.

Effective government schemes

The federal government is working hard to grow the industry so that it can reach its full potential. Several plans and efforts have been implemented to assist our craftspeople in overcoming the obstacles they confront. The ‘Dastkar Shashktikaran Yojana’ has collaborated with the ‘Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana’ to help craftsmen with infrastructure, technology, and human resource development. It was created to organise artists into self-help organisations and societies in order to encourage bulk production and cost savings in raw material acquisition. Through a cluster-based approach in scaling infrastructure at handicraft centres, especially in rural regions, the ‘Mega Cluster Scheme’ intends to facilitate job creation and improve the standard of living of our artisans. The ‘Marketing Support and Services Scheme’ provides artists with financial aid to participate in domestic marketing events and trade fairs across the country and overseas. The ‘Research and Development Scheme’ was established to gather information on the economic, artistic, social, and promotional aspects of crafts and artisans in the sector in order to aid in the execution of other welfare programmes. Moreover, the Ministry of Textiles has granted a fund of ₹2.8 crore for the integrated project for the development and marketing of Varanasi handicrafts in September 2020, in order to help craftsmen overcome issues related to COVID-19.

Exports vs imports

Although India’s handicrafts have a small share of the global market, the overall potential for growing exports is significant as the global market grows. Expert Market Research estimates that the worldwide handicrafts market will be worth USD 647.57 billion in 2020. Over the forecast period of 2022-2027, the handicrafts market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.9 per cent. By 2026, it is estimated to reach USD 1,204.7 billion. According to IBEF, the government of India increased incentive rates for handmade items under the merchandise export from India scheme (MEIS) to 7 per cent from 5 per cent. This will assist exporters in recovering the costs of materials used in handicraft manufacturing, resulting in more competitive pricing and more exports. Indian handicrafts are exported to over a hundred nations, with the United States accounting for almost a third of all Indian handicraft exports.

The advent of specialised platforms

India lacked a centralised platform to display Indian handcraft to a worldwide audience until a few years ago. This situation is rapidly changing. Many channels are increasingly emerging that will provide the much-needed assistance to Indian craftsmen in gaining visibility in both domestic as well as international markets. These worldwide handicraft trade platforms provide free supplier induction and strive to provide the industry with a more organised image in the global market. These B2B marketplaces, which are completely managed, connect Indian manufacturers and distributors with overseas buyers.

The bottom line

It wouldn’t be wrong to state that the handicraft business has enormous potential in both domestic and international markets as various statistics indicate. While artisans’ fragile situation necessitates cautious involvement, the government has already made significant progress by enacting policies that will make handmade items more competitive globally and enhance the working conditions of our artisans. Hence, it’s worth noting that the industry is on track to grow in the coming years.

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