Srinagar: Economic meltdown due to Covid-induced lockdowns across the globe has hit Kashmir’s Pashmina trade badly with traders complaining of incurring huge losses.
Pashmina traders have faced a body blow with the traders terming it as the worst phase since the 1990s for them.
The Pashmina traders and exporters in Kashmir say that they faced challenges at multiple fronts which led to the crippling of one of the major industries in Kashmir. Traders urged the government to come forward in safeguarding the famed Pashmina industry which provides livelihood to lakhs of artisans.
Senior vice president, Kashmir Pashmina Organization’s (KPO) Musadiq Shah said that the major problems started after abrogation of Article 370 which was followed by Covid inducted lockdowns in 2020, 2021.
“Covid lockdowns led to huge losses as not only in Kashmir, but markets across the globe were shut. Pashmina items are mainly exported for foreign countries, however, for the past three years there has been an economic meltdown, which has badly hit the trade.”
“There are scores of traders, exporters and thousands of artisans who are dependent on the trade and the last three years have been difficult. Over the past seven decades, we have never asked for government assistance as the trade was self-sufficient so far, but the past few years have brought unprecedented challenges and we need government help to tide over that,” Shah said.
Pashmina traders said that many entrepreneurs had started investing in the Pashmina items and were getting in the export segment of the trade but the lockdowns broke all their dreams.
“I know many youngsters who were excited to join the trade. They had invested their savings into it and wanted to bring new life to the trade. Many of them gave up as they could not stand the losses and there was no one to help,” said another trader.
Pashmina traders recently formed Kashmir Pashmina Organization (KPO) to represent artisans, manufacturers, exporters, etc. one of the members said that they want better coordination and a unified voice to apprise the government about their issues.
The members of KPO said that as per their data Pashmina industry has faced Rs 3000 crore loss in the past three years.
They said many artisans lost their jobs and had to do labor work. There are around 2.35 lakh artisans associated with different crafts in Kashmir; thousands are exclusively associated with Pashmina.
ParvaizBhat, president of Artisans Rehabilitation Forum said that artisans including those associated with Pashmina have faced the huge issue and desperately need government help.
“Earlier during any lockdown, artisans used to work at homes and we used to continue trade. This time the whole chain was broken as travel and export stopped. The manufacturers couldn’t employ artisans because the earlier orders were yet to be sold and there was no capital to start new work. Many artisans had opted for loans and are defaulting now, the government should help us,” Bhat said.