KATHMANDU, Dec 15: Nepali handicraft, one of the main export items of the country, has never really picked up due to failure of maintaining quality assurance in the international market, traders said on Saturday.
Speaking at the 47th anniversary event of the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN), traders sought government initiation to install an internationally-accredited laboratory in the country and to promote collective trademark of Nepali handmade goods.
"Lack of quality assurance of locally produced goods has been hindering the desired growth in the business of the products abroad," FHAN president Surendra Bhai Shakya said.
The government has listed a number of handicraft products as high export-potential items in the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2016. Under an ambitious plan to boost the exportable products including Nepali handicraft, the government has aimed to install an internationally accredited laboratory by 2020. "However, no progress has been observed along this line in more than three years of its implementation," said Shakya.
Nepali handicraft has been one of the major sources of export earnings for the country. According to the federation, Nepal exports handicraft worth more than Rs 10 billion every year.
The country exports products made with allo, beads, animal bones and horns, ceramics, cotton items, dhaka, felt, glass, incense, metal craft, textile, paper, plastic, silk, stone, and woolen products in significant amounts. Likewise, products made with bamboo, crystal, hemp, leather, paintings, pashmina, silver, and wood also come under the country's major handmade products doing good business abroad.
However, these products have ever been struggling to expand their market due to a number of reasons, including high prices, traditional designs, and issue of quality maintenance. According to the federation, Nepali handicraft products are relatively more expensive due to high cost of production compared to Indian and Chinese products.
Currently, the government provides a five percent cash incentive to handicraft exporters. However, traders have to face cumbersome procedures to receive the incentive amount from the government. Shakya also demanded the government to raise the incentive rate to double digits to reduce the production cost of the handicraft items.
The FHAN also sought the government support in installing handicraft villages in all seven provinces in order to facilitate quality production of Nepali handicraft. Traders also asked the government to make necessary arrangements to issue fumigation certificates for the export of handmade products.