Photo Credit: Mithilawomenhandicraft.com.np
February 25: Although the lockdown imposed to control the spread of coronavirus has had a huge impact on the overall handicraft sector, it had comparatively less impact on the felt industry, say those involved in this business.
The industry was less affected by the pandemic and the lockdown as the products are completely handmade, and there is no need of big machineries, says Sunita Shrestha, founder of Nephand Felt and Leather Works. “Besides, with the advancement of technology, we received order online even during the lockdown, so our production did not stop,” adds Shrestha.
Sharada Rijal, founder and president of Felt Industries Association of Nepal, says that felt products worth Rs 2 billion were exported in the previous years while it has declined by 50 percent now. “Although there has been decline in growth, we did not have to shut down completely and that’s a positive side,” says Rijal.
“Unlike other handicraft industries and tourism sector which had to shut down completely due to the lockdown, felt industry had less impact.”
The statistics of the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal (FHAN) shows that there has been decline in export of felt products by 35 percent in the fiscal year 2019/20. As per the data of the federation, felt products worth Rs 1.18 billion were exported in the FY 2019/20. Likewise, in the FY 2018/19, felt products worth Rs 1.82 billion were exported.
According to the president of the federation, Surendra Bhai Shakya, decrease in export rate is the result of expensive cargo rate. At present, producers have to export their products in chartered flights which is highly expensive, he says. “Of course, the exports are lower than before, but we have been receiving orders as various types of products are made from felt,” he says.
Products like hat, bags, purses, shoes, belts, muffler, brooches, coaster, key rings, jewellery, decorative items, gifts, and mats are made from felt.
Since the felt products are targeted for international market, the producers initially thought that they would not receive any orders after the international market was closed. Nevertheless, they received orders through online means.
“Compared to last year, orders from Europe have declined while the orders from the USA have increased, so it is balanced,” informs Shrestha.
Shakya says that not only international market, now the domestic market should also consume products made in Nepal.
To promote the handicraft sector, the federation is organising Handicraft Trade Fair in April. Further, they have also planned on providing training on handicraft skills in different places of the country.