Supply Chain Challenges: A case study of Uttarakhand Woolen Handicraft Industry

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International Journal of Management, IT and Engineering
Woolen handicraft is a traditional skill practiced in hill district of Uttarakhand and has been vertically passed on for generations. The geography of hill districts viz. high altitude, mountainous terrain, cold climate but excellent sunshine provides ideal conditions for rearing of animals like sheep, Angora rabbits and Pashmina goats. This creates an environment, which permits extraction of finest quality of wool.The major advantage of woolen handicraft sector is its enormous employment potential despite low investment of capital; however, the industry is not geared up to tap this opportunity.In Uttarakhand, weavers produce a lot of woolen craft per year, yet the socio economic condition of the weavers continues to be poor. The woolen carpet business needs to address various challenges at different stages i.e. improving availability of requisite quality and quantity of raw material, wool processing, grading, design improvement, strengthening of marketing arrangements and mobilizing institutional finance for growth of this industry. All these stages involve a chain of intermediaries. The present paper is an attempt to explore the existingsupply chain scenario of the woolen handicraft sector in hill districts of Uttarakhand. Exploratory research design was used for the study and Chamoli and Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand were selected purposively as they had highest production among the districts. Primary data was collected from traders, retailers and artisans involved in the trade through interviews and structured questionnaire. The result of the study highlights various constraints and the issues afflicting the supply chain.
Woolen handicraft is an inherited, traditional skill practiced in the mountainous region of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand government has identified major clusters in the state where people have been engaged in weaving since ages. These clusters are Dunda in Uttarkashi, Dharchula and Munsiyari in Pithoragarh, Manglore in Haridwar, Chinka in Chamoli and Kalsi in Dehradun district (Prashant, 2008). In all these clusters artisans are engaged in making carpets and other woolen crafts. The woolen handmade carpet industry of Uttarakhand employs around 11000 weavers (Planning Commission, 2006). These weavers produce a lot of woolen craft per year, yet the socio economic condition of the weavers continues to be poor. In Uttarakhand, a separate body has been set up as Uttarakhand Handloom & Handicraft Development Council (UHHDC). It is a registered council constituted by the Government of Uttarakhand and acts as the apex body for the overall development and promotion of handicrafts in the state. It aims at generating sustainable employment opportunities by promoting specialized products for commercialization. It acts as a catalyst to encourage, guide and organize the artisans and provide platforms to producers and buyers where they can meet and engage in fruitful interactions. Besides, wool banks have been set up by the Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB) to provide all kinds of wool varieties required for the production of variety of products. KVIB also encourages hand spinning by promoting use of efficient charkhas in homes.As a result, buyers who are looking for actual handmade woolen products can find these in Uttarakhand.