LUCKNOW: The catastrophe called novel coronavirus, which emerged in China’s Wuhan province, is having a debilitating effect not only on human life across the globe but also on the trade. In Uttar Pradesh, the weavers of Banarsi silk are bearing the brunt due to the restrictions on travel and export –import though temporary till the deadly virus is combated.
Banarsi Saree trade is one among those industries which is faced with a crisis of raw silk thread for handlooms in the wake of the deadly virus scare. As per the traders of Varanasi, so far, 20 per cent of the business is believed to have taken a beating. Initially, China government had imposed restrictions on the shipment carrying silk thread till February 10 in order to minimise the chances of corona spread but now it has been extended till February 24.
“The last shipment of Chinese Silk yarn had reach India o January 15. It was followed by Chinese new year revelries till January 25, the supply had to be regularised from February 4. But Corona scare led the Chinese government to extend the vacations till February 10 and further till February 17. Now, this vacation has been extended till February 24. We expect it to end from February 25. If that happens there will not be much crisis of the silk thread,” says Vaibhav Kapoor, Vice-President, Silk Trade Association and Chairman, Yarn Coordination Committee, Banaras Vastra Udyog Association. However, he sees it as a
golden opportunity for the Indian silk yarn market to capitalise on the situation and stabilise its position in the competition.
According to Kapoor, the consumption of silk yarn by Banarsi saree industry stands out to be around 2,000-2,500 ton per year. “Of this, around 70% of the yarn used by weavers in Banaras for sarees is that from China,” he says. “As the last shipment of Chinese yarn had come on January 15, around 100 ton of silk is available in the market at present,” says Kapoor.
“At present the crisis is not that grave as the shipment already on way to India had yarn enough to meet the demand for a month even if there is no supply. But after that, the shortage could be there if the ban is not lifted,” says Manish Jain, general secretary, Silk Trade Associations. However, he adds that there has been some escalation in prices of yarn as the weavers who used to buy one kg of silk yarn usually, are now taking two kgs for stocking.
As per Vaibhav Kapoor, the price of Chinese silk yarn is around Rs 4,000 to 4,100 per kg as compared to Indian silk yarn which costs around Rs 3,000-3,700 per kg. “The present crisis has jacked the prices of yarn by Rs 350-400 per kg as weavers want to stock material for future in case the ban on shipment from
China is extended further,” says Ramzan Ali, a master weaver.
Banarsi silk trade is a huge industry with an annual turnover of Rs 5,000 crore-10,000 crore and over five lakh families depend on handlooms for their livelihood.
However, GI expert and Padam Shri Dr Rajnikant believe that the government should look for options to reduce the dependence of weavers on Chinese market.