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Lockdown deals huge blow to artisans


GUWAHATI, May 3 - The lockdown has hit the handloom and handicrafts sector hard and it might take more than a year for it to recover, leaving lakhs of artisans and workers associated with it worried.

The tourism industry is shut down and this will directly impact the handicrafts sector, because tourists play a big role as they are the main customers.

�As there will be no conferences, meetings, etc., in the coming months, this will have a serious impact on the sale of gamusa and conference folders indigenously made from cane bamboo and water reed, and wood-carving souvenirs,� award-winning master craftsman Sapon Neog from Tezpur said.

Before the start of monsoon, the craftsman dealing in indigenous items like cane, bamboo, wood carvings, jute, water reed, etc., and the handicrafts industry stock their raw materials. �However, due to the lockdown, they will be unable to do it this time. The rainy season is about to begin,� Neog explained.

Neog has trained over 1,000 youths in handicrafts and all these youths, who used to earn a livelihood through it, have been left in the lurch.

Naveen Sood of Canecraft & Allied Industries said there will be no trade fairs or exhibition for some time as such events have been banned. �It will have a big impact on this sector as the craftsmen used to depend on exhibitions and trade fairs for their sale and orders,� Sood said.

He felt that even after the lockdown is lifted, the handicrafts sector will not be able to sustain itself for at least six to eight months.

�These are not essential items used on a daily basis. So, hardly, there will be any clients to buy it,� Sood added.

Many artisans said that the government needs to look into the problems in the sector, as it has been doing in case of agriculture. There are 12.50 lakh weavers presently engaged in the handloom sector in Assam. The number of people directly or indirectly involved in the handicrafts sector could be over 4 lakh.

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