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Kerala Handloom Industry Faces Sales Challenges Amid Festive Season

Updated: Apr 04, 2024 03:49:44pm

Kerala Handloom Industry Faces Sales Challenges Amid Festive Season

Kochi, Apr 4 (KNN) As the festive season commences, the handloom sector in Kerala is confronting multiple challenges that threaten to dampen sales.

Simultaneously, an increasing number of skilled weavers are abandoning the trade for more stable jobs and higher wages elsewhere.

However, amid these difficulties, a silver lining emerges in the form of heightened visibility and demand for authentic handloom products, aided by the current heatwave that has driven consumer preference toward 100 per cent cotton garments, according to T.S. Baby of a North Paravur Handloom Society.

Baby cited the 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on societies with annual sales exceeding Ra 1.5 crore as a major hindrance to the handloom business. He stated that the sector has received little support from the Central government despite repeated appeals for assistance.

Societies with sales below Rs 20 lakh are exempt from the GST, he added, underscoring the need for substantial support to preserve the tradition and retain skilled weavers.

The convergence of Ramzan and Vishu festivals has provided a temporary boost, allowing buyers and cooperatives to extend discounted sales for 13 days, bolstered by a 20 per cent government subsidy – a brief window of opportunity amidst the challenges.

Nevertheless, a representative from a prominent Chendamangalam handloom society cautioned that people might face cash constraints during the festive period, potentially dampening purchasing power, though election preparations have yet to significantly impact the market.

Baby revealed that the society encompasses approximately 140 weavers and 20 allied workers, but weavers increasingly seek alternative income sources, leading to a steady exodus from the sector.

Compounding matters, yarn prices have nearly doubled since the COVID-19 outbreak, with weavers in Kerala heavily reliant on imports from other states, adding to the sector's financial strain.

While the open market operations sustain the handloom industry, the State government's school uniform program has also provided a lifeline, with weavers in Ernakulam producing around 30,000 meters of uniform material.

However, the threat of counterfeit handloom products persists, posing a serious challenge to genuine handwoven material despite periodic crackdowns by authorities.

(KNN Bureau)


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