The 13th Handicraft Trade Fair and 11th Craft Competition was inaugurated by Minister Pandey yesterday to promote local handicraft as it represents the unique art and culture of the country. The five-day fair, with the theme â€˜Prospect for Prosperityâ€™ aims to popularize and promote local handicraft products in the domestic as well as the international markets.
The annual fair is housing six pavilions and 177 stalls this year, showcasing textile products like pashmina, silk and dhaka as well as non-textile products like silver jewellery and handmade paper products, among others.
Handicraft producers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bhutan have also participated in the fair. Meanwhile, importers from China, Japan and Bhutan are also slated to participate in the event by holding business-to-business meetings with the producers, as per the organizers.
Speaking during inauguration, Minister for Industry Som Prasad Pandey stressed on the need to tap into areas that would create employment opportunities to stop the mass exodus of youths and to give impetus to exports of locally manufactured goods. He further added that it is time for the country to shift from political revolution to industrial revolution and focus on increasing the production in the country.
Visitors to the fair will also get to check out the craft competition, where 47 competitors will be showcasing their craftsmanship by making various handicraft products at the venue itself.
According to the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN), the organizer of the fair, the three best performers will be chosen and awarded with cash prizes and certificates.
Speaking on the contribution of the handicraft industry to the national economy, Dharma Raj Shakya, chairman of FHAN, said that the industry has created job opportunities for over 1.1 million people, not to mention the important role that it has played in increasing nationâ€™s foreign exchange reserve through exports.
As per FHAN, the country exported handicraft products worth Rs 2.29 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal year â€” a drop of nearly 11 per cent when compared to the figures of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal when Rs 2.58 billion worth of hand-made products had been exported.
They urge the government to be serious about developing the required infrastructure to facilitate the handicraft industry and increase the facilities given to exporters so that exports can be boosted.
The country had exported handicraft goods worth nearly Rs five billion in the last fiscal year â€” the amount nearly equally divided in terms of sales of textile products and non-textile products.
As per FHAN, if the sale of handicraft products in the local market is taken into account, the sector generates revenue of Rs 12 to Rs 13 billion annually.
Last fiscal, America was the largest market for Nepali handicraft products, with exports worth Rs 1.3 billion, followed by Germany (Rs 487 million), China (Rs 371 million), Japan (Rs 355 million) and the UK (Rs 302 million).
Around 300,000 people are expected to visit the fair that runs till May 9. The mega event is being organized in cooperation with Ministry of Commerce, Nepal Trade Integration Strategy, and Trade and Export Promotion Centre, is expected to generate business transaction of around Rs 100 million.
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