Andhra Pradesh

Chirala weavers go online to stay afloat

A weaver displays a colourful sari at a handloom expo in Ongole on Thursday.

A weaver displays a colourful sari at a handloom expo in Ongole on Thursday.  

Tie up with Amazon to market their handloom products

Pushed to the brink, weavers of Chirala have reinvented themselves by going for a tie-up with a leading American electronic commerce and cloud computing company to improve the marketability for their eco-friendly handloom products, as the GST regime, which came close on the heels of demonetisation, has crippled the handloom sector.

The going had been tough for the sector, thanks to unequal competition from powerloom players with Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act implemented more in the breach than in observance, say a group of weavers from Chirala attending a national handloom expo, jointly organised by the Union and State Governments at the Kapu Kalyana mandapam here, till January 6.

Pouring out their woes, they said the GST regime, which came close on the heels of demonetisation has further aggravated the problem, after demonetisation led to loss of purchasing power and reduced offtake since November last year.

“GST on raw material and finished products had pushed up the cost of our products by 20 to 25%. As a result, we were forced to operate on thin or no profit margin to liquidate the stocks on hand to at least break even, while holding on to our existing customers,” says Indira Abhyudaya Silk Handloom Weavers Society president B. Shyam Sundar.

“In this context, we decided to go for online marketing. Now we are a happier lot thanks to the tie-up with e-commerce retailer Amazon to realise better prices,” he told The Hindu.

“'On receipt of orders online, we send by couriers the selected saris and dress material to online customers. On receipt of the products at the customer end, we get online credit of payments instantly without any hassles,” adds the head of the society with a membership of 128 weavers.

Making a mention of the Geographic Indication tag enjoyed by their counterparts in Uppada, Mangalagiri, Venkatagiri and Dharmavaram, the weavers plead with the government for obtaining a GI tag for their products too to improve their visibility in the global market.

They want the government to subsidise the cost of handloom products made with organic dyes, which cost four times more than the one made with chemical dyes.

Though there are 127 registered exporters from the Chirala region with over 10,000 looms in operation, the department is planning to facilitate tie-up between 10 weavers cooperative societies with online shopping websites to start with to ensure assured market, department officials overseeing the expo add.

Meanwhile, Handloom Assistant Director J. Sivanarayana says the government is mulling providing 20% discount on handloom products to liquidate the stocks with the cooperative societies.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 9:10:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/chirala-weavers-go-online-to-stay-afloat/article22321074.ece

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