An expert team from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) lauded the state government for promoting Bengal’s handicrafts in the international market though setting up of ‘Rural Craft Hub Project’ at eleven locations in 9 different districts.
A team of 14 international handicrafts experts and senior official of UNESCO visited the hubs over last few days and interacted with the rural artisans to get themselves acquainted with their products. Experts were from countries like UK, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Malayasia, Thailand, Egypt and Bahrain.
After visiting the hubs, the overseas experts at a media interaction in a city hotel said that they were overwhelmed to see that developments that were made to enhance the infrastructure in the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise sector in West Bengal. They said that the new approach of the state government to promote the handicrafts in the foreign markets thereby boosting the economy of the artisans was unprecedented and it would attract more number of tourists in these places.
This will not only contribute to the development of the socio-economic condition of the people living in the areas but the hubs will also attract foreign tourists thereby boosting the tourism sector in West Bengal. The State government has set up ‘Rural Craft hub Project’ at 11 different locations. Around 3,000 people were initially involved in the project and later the number rose up to 15,000 within few months. The State government is planning to set up more such hubs in various parts of the state which will create 5 lakh employments.
The Rural Craft Hub Projects came up at the cost of Rs 10 crore in the first phase, while in the second phase many more hubs will come up in the state at an approximate cost of Rs 20 crore. The Rural Craft Hubs were elevated to the rural Craft Cultural Hubs in October 2015 to include the people who are involved in various cultural activities as well. The State government will carry 95 per cent of the cost while the UNESCO has consented to bear 5 per cent of its cost. These hubs were already recognised by the international experts as one of the best projects. It may be mentioned here that the state Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Textiles (MSME) department and UNESCO jointly developed these hubs.
The project covers Sitalpati weavers at Cooch Behar, mask makers at Dakshin Dinajpur, Kantha embroideries at Birbhum, Dokra makers at Bankura and Burdwan, Madurkathi weavers at Purba Midnapore, Terracota artisans of Bankura, Chau mask makers of Purulia, wooden doll makers of Burdwan, clay doll makers of Nadia and Patachitra painters of Paschim Midnapore.
The West Bengal Khadi and Village Industries Board provided the necessary hardware including common facility centre, tools equipments and capital supports to the artisans.
The artisans can exhibit their products in these hubs where they will get the buyers from across the state and abroad. After coming to power the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee laid great emphasis to promote West Bengal’s handicrafts in the international market. Earlier there was no platform so that the artisans can display their products to attract more customers.
The present government has not only provided a platform but also contributed to the development of the socio-economic condition of the people.