FAISALABAD: The wooden handicrafts business is dying rapidly due to surging prices of electricity and decreasing number of buyers of such products.
Sillanwali in Sargodha is known across Pakistan for of its wooden handicrafts of assorted styles. Some people from the town are selling such handicrafts online and a few are exporting them with the help of a third party.
Scores of manufacturing factories have been established in the Rana Market of Sillanwali Bazaar where carpenters are also earning their livelihood by setting up their wood cutters even in small shops. One can find wood items featuring the Quranic verses, models of different historical buildings, toys and items for kitchen.
Rana Saleem, a handicraft expert engaged in the business for decades, says that with every passing day he is finding it difficult to make both ends meet as only the owners of display centres are earning handsome amount and the craftsmen are receiving meagre payment against their skills.
Saleem has set up a small shop in the Rana Market where he has been manufacturing different kinds of wooden vases; however, he has to sell these items to a nearby display centre against meagre amount.
“The display centre’s owner is purchasing a vase from me against Rs400 to Rs1,000 and he is earning more than two hundred percent profit. I am only getting equal to daily wages but display centres are earning handsome amounts,” Saleem laments, saying that owing to low payment, the younger generation is not willing to adopt this field as a profession.
On the other hand, when this scribe talked to display centres owners they also seem to be unhappy with the state of their business.
“The government is not extending any assistance to keep this hundreds years old business alive,” the owner of a display centre told this scribe.
He says despite giving decades of life to this business, they have no option but to adopt some other profession.
“Due to surging prices of electricity, wood and other allied items, it has become difficult for us to run this business smoothly,” he says.
However, there are other businessmen who are turning to the handicrafts export.
Raza Hussain, a garments exporter, says he is going to invest in the business of selling handicrafts online and export them. He says he is earning a good amount from his business but is now interested in the wooden handicrafts.
Mian Abdul Hameed, an industrialist, a visitor to the Sillanwali handicraft market, says the wooden handicraft sector has a great potential to fetch the much-needed foreign exchange and it is need of the hour that government focus on this sector.
“I am visiting this market to find the items which I can export to the UK where we are already running stores. It seems that export of such products would help me to expand my business and earn handsome money which will ultimately benefit the local wooden handicrafts industry,” he adds.
Hameed says the government must tap the potential of skills of the Sillanwali handicraft experts and display their items in the international exhibition, which would attract the attention of foreign buyers.
Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019