Kannur to host international handloom exhibition

Special Correspondent

Union Commerce Ministry offers support to the project

Kannur to be brought under cluster scheme

Minister promises marketing facility for products

KANNUR: Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh announced here on Thursday that his Ministry would offer support if handloom exporters organised an international handloom exhibition here once in two years.

Talking to the business community in an interactive session organised by the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce (NMCC), the Minister proposed to the handloom exporters to hold the international handloom exhibition here in September 2009.

He said the Ministry would sponsor the event to be organised as the first project of this town after being conferred the status of the Town of Export Excellence.

He said the Ministry would find foreign buyers and arrange their travel to this town. The textile exporters accepted the proposal.

Mr. Ramesh said Kannur should have been included in the first list of 20 handloom clusters identified by the Union government.

He promised that the town would be brought under the handloom cluster scheme. Each cluster would be provided Central grant of Rs.2 crore for infrastructure development. To a proposal raised by the Kerala Textile Export Organisation (KTEO) for the Ministry of Commerce’s assistance under the textile cluster development scheme, the Minister said the cluster to be developed at a total outlay of Rs.64 crore required land to be acquired by the State government and contribution of Rs.12 crore by the stakeholders.

‘Land is a political issue’

“Acquiring land is the most difficult issue in Kerala where land is a political issue,” the Minister said.

Land was yet to be acquired for the Spices Park project sanctioned by his Ministry in Idukki, he said and added that the coir cluster scheme sanctioned for Alappuzha had already been delayed by one-and-a-half years.

The Minister said he would discuss with the Marine Products Exports Development Authority chairman the proposal for establishing a sea food park here.

On the proposal for setting up an agri exports park in the district which accounted for the highest percentage of raw cashew nut production in the State, he expressed surprise that there was no cashew processing facility here.

He also dismissed the demand for locating the Cashew Board in the State, saying that Kerala accounted for only 10 per cent of cashew grown in the country, though it processed 70 per cent of cashew nuts in the country.

To a proposal for the Centre’s support for allowing to develop a captive plantation for wood-based industries here, including Western India Plywoods Ltd., the Minister said this proposal would never be entertained by the present State government.

Marketing facility

He also said that the Ministry would consider the proposal for setting up a marketing facility for handloom products under the Urban Hats scheme aimed at ensuring strategic locations in urban centres for crafts people to sell their products. He said a centrally located place had to be identified for the facility.

Later, talking to reporters, the Minister said that connectivity was the single most important thing that would give a boost to the handloom sector here that accounted for 10 or 12 per cent of handloom exports from the country.

The proposed airport would be a boon to the sector, he added. He said he had assured the KTEO that a permanent space for exhibiting textile products from here would be arranged at the Expo Mart set up at Noida at a cost of Rs.400 crore.

Economic meltdown

The Minister said though the economic meltdown would affect all sectors, handloom and food sectors would be the least affected. Quality of water here was what ensured the uniqueness of the Kannur handloom products, he added.

Mr. Ramesh called for more business-friendly environment in the State. “Kerala has to move much faster,” he said.

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