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Textiles Ministry is eyeing niche overseas markets to boost domestic handloom and handicraft exports as many global companies are willing to tie up with Indian weavers and artisans, a top official said today. "There is a huge scope for promoting Indian handloom and handicraft products in the niche markets world over," Textiles Secretary Rashmi Verma said at an Assocham event here. She said that though overseas shipments of most sectors declined, handicraft exports continued to grow at 17 per cent. The Textiles Secretary said that all stakeholders should make efforts to engage with local artisans and weavers and hand-hold them for ensuring that they get right price and market for their products. Verma said the ministry has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with 20 e-commerce firms to engage with artisans and weavers in various handloom and handicraft clusters and provide them a direct marketing platform. "This will go a long way in ensuring that they get the right price for their product as they are able to sell their product directly to the consumer," she said. Verma said the government is taking measures for skilling weavers, for giving them design inputs, quality raw material, tools and upgrading their looms to empower them so that they continue to remain engaged in this craft. "We are finding that younger generation is slowly getting disinterested in this sector and moving towards information technology (IT) as the children of the weavers and artisans are not joining this profession," she observed. According to Verma, an analysis conducted by the ministry found that many weavers and artisans have become workers and labourers in the hands of traders or exporters. "They get paid wages on a daily basis on whatever work they do in one day, so instead of selling their craft and talent, they are now selling their labour, as a result, this has disinterested the young generation," she said. She also said that dearth of working capital, dependence upon middle men for raw material, working capital and even the design are certain factors forcing the weavers and artisans to sell off their talent and craft.
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