Indian handicrafts fair coming to Zim

NEW DELHI - India's famed Handicrafts and Gift Fair that opened in Utah Pradesh state on Friday will begin a series of international partnerships with other countries including Zimbabwe, secretary for Textiles Zohra Chatterjee has said.

Officially opening the first of three annual festivals which was also attended by the Romanian ambassador to India Velerica Epure, Chartterjee said the fair had attracted more than 5 000 international buyers.

“It is interesting to learn that despite the fact that this is a wholly Indian fair with more than 2 000 exhibitors displaying more than 900 types of handicrafted products, it has been able to attract more than 5 000 buyers from different parts of the world.

“Handicrafts have always occupied an important status in Indian social and economic life as most of them are produced by artisans belonging to economically and socially backward sections of society from far flung areas of the country.So any growth in the business of handicrafts will result in an increase in employment, thereby helping in poverty alleviation for these people,” Chatterjee said.

Addressing journalists from across the world at a press briefing, the Indian textiles secretary said African countries had a well-known history of artwork but had not done enough to coordinate their people’s work.

“We will be looking at partnerships or twinning arrangements, but our first step is to take Indian craft to African countries,” Chatterjee said.

“India is currently working at the finer details of a huge all-Indian-culture festival that will be held in Harare to follow up on the small food and handicraft fair that we held in late last year.”

Following a lull in growth during 2009-10 world recession, the handicrafts business rebounded to grow by 22 percent.

“We do not have the current figures of the business’’ contribution to total Gross Domestic Product suffice to say it is significant particularly give the industry is catering for at least 6,8 million artisans,” she said.

“Product sale values have topped just over $2,3 billion in the first ten months of last year which gives you an idea of how much this industry means to the country.”

The Indian government provides technical, marketing and infrastructural creation to support companies in the handicrafts business.

The handicrafts and gifts fair will run until tomorrow Monday. - Richard Chidza in India

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