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NEW DELHI, March 7 (TCA) -- Traditional crafts are a reliable source of economic stability and environmental survival. It not only helps to reduce poverty and create more jobs, but also serves as a way to preserve national traditions.

Representatives from Central Asian countries including Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan visited an international handicrafts exhibition in New Delhi in February. It was organized by Indias Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts and the Ministry of Textiles.

Jamilya Mirbozkhonova, an exhibitor from Tajikistan, believes that while Tajik artisans can make products of remarkable design and quality, it is very difficult to find a market for them.  We should learn from India how to promote these products on the world markets. Especially given that this sector is of a great economic importance for our country in terms of low capital investment and providing employment opportunities for the most vulnerable segments of society.

Mavlyan Khodjayeva from Uzbekistan, whose family has a history in handicrafts and who specializes in wool and silk, said, Sale exhibitions of artisan products are being regularly held in Uzbekistan, and there are more than 10,000 artisans in the country. All of them carefully preserve their national traditions.

Aiday Asangulova, a designer from Kyrgyzstan, spoke about the advantages of Indian goods in comparison to those from China, which have flooded Kyrgyzstan’s market. India today is a world center of handmade textiles. Kyrgyzstan should cooperate with India, since in order to further promote light industry its time to start using natural fabrics and dyes. Kyrgyz clothing makers mostly use fabrics from China. They flooded the entire CIS with products made of synthetics.

Kyrgyzstan does not have cotton fabric, and even if it has, it does not meet international standards. The country also does not have its own silk (its been a long time since the Osh Silk Plant had been closed). There is the Silk Association, but its members are using Uzbek silk in their models. It is of a high quality, but the Uzbek factories are small and they can not provide large production volumes, said Asangulova.  

Currently, only two percent of Kyrgyz designers use Chinese silk and one-two percent use Indian silk. But if we want to eventually create environmentally safe domestic market and competitive garment exports not only due to low prices, but also through the use of natural fabrics and exclusive designs, we need to buy raw materials in India, which offers a huge selection, she concluded.

Aziz Aliyev, a former senior official at Kyrgyzstans Ministry of Economic Regulation, spoke about great opportunities in improving cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and India. India is a 1.2-billion market. There was time when a number of interesting projects had been implemented in Kyrgyzstan, there were even direct flights from Bishkek to Delhi, and the government of India opened a credit line to build a pharmaceutical factory in Kyrgyzstan. Today, however, the Kyrgyz government is focusing on Chinas market with its consumer goods, beneficial to the mass consumer.

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