GUWAHATI, March 3 - Technology gap is identified as the main problem in the integrated export market for the silk sector of the State. Moreover, there are managerial problems and the problems related to export certification, logistics, professionalism, brand promotion, export taxes, law and order and non-trade barriers for this sector in exporting its products, says Nihar Ranjan Kalita, a researcher in the export potential of Assam's silk industry.
Moreover, Kalita maintains that the State lacks a policy to promote its silk industry. The State also lacks proper silk testing infrastructure to get proper export certificates needed for export into international market. Besides, the State producers need to go for product diversification to capture international market, Kalita says.
Kalita says that the overseas market of the Indian silk is divided into two categories � traditional and non-traditional. While the traditional market includes the buyers of the South Asian, Middle East and some of the African countries, the non-traditional market includes the buyers of the West European countries and the United States.
Export of Indian silk products to the traditional market is showing a declining trend for the past about two decades due to the slow offtake of the Indian silk sarees there. But the non-traditional market now accounts a substantial share of the Indian silk products. The United States is the single largest buyer of Indian silk products with an average share of 25.04 per cent of the offtake during the past about two decades, Kalita said.
Elaborating further the problems that fetter the silk industry of the State in capturing international market, he said only a small percentage of the weavers and entrepreneurs of the State are getting coverage of formal finance to mobilise their working capital. The practice of taking loans from informal sources at higher rates of interest has been reducing the profit margin of the weavers and the entrepreneurs.
Significantly, the people at the ground level know little about the rules and regulations of the export market, even as around 67 of the weavers and entrepreneurs in the State�s silk sector are interested in exporting their goods to foreign countries.
But the situation is such that the silk sector of the State, like the rest of the country, is dominated by handloom, which are characterised by primitive mode of production. This has kept the cost of production high and the amount of woven fabric is also less in this mode of production.
Contrary to this situation, the international market demands high fashion technology as well as rapid changes in designs, colours, packaging etc., Kalita said.
For realisation of foreign demand, professionalism in every stage of production is highly required. Quality and standard of items is an integral part to sustain in the international market. In the international market, brand values count a lot more than anything else. Unlike Assam Tea or Darjeeling Tea, the Indian silk has less brand value in comparison to that of China or Italy.
This is applicable in the case of Assam silk too. Eri and Muga are organic and hence they do not contain any chemicals and this needs to be projected outside the State and the country as well in a convincing manner, said Kalita.