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Faryab traders, weavers want challenges faced by carpet industry addressed

24 Feb 2024 - 23:03
24 Feb 2024 - 23:03

MAIMANA (Pajhwok): Carpet weavers and traders in northwestern Faryab province have urged authorities to overcome challenges faced by the carpet industry and take urgent initiatives for its promotion and development.

They expressed their concerns over existing curbs on banking sector in the country, lack of domestic carpet market and said the carpet sale had declined now comparing to the past years.

Weavers and businessmen linked open market policy, import of Turkish and Iranian rugs, lack of domestic market and the use of old designs as main reasons behind the stagnation of carpet market in the country.

But the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) said many efforts had been taken for the promotion of carpet industry in Afghanistan, next year through the cooperation of NGOs there are several big programmes available regarding the learning of carpet weaving skill and its promotion.

The ministry said last year, around two million square metres carpet and rug exported to foreign countries.

Carpet traders:

Aminullah, one of the carpet businessmen in the Andkhi district of Faryab province, told Pajhwok Afghan News that carpet sale has declined now significantly comparing to the past and currently its market was facing stagnation.

He linked the decline of carpet business with economic problems, restrictions on banking sector and stagnated domestic market.

Aminullah added: “We work hard to wave carpet, wash, cut and send it to Pakistan, but Afghanistan’s handicrafts are exported to the markets of Europe and America under the Pakistani label and it is very painful to have the name and logo of that country.”

He termed the import of foreign products as another factor in the stagnation of the carpet weaving industry in Afghanistan and said that Turkish and Iranian carpets are traded the same as domestic hand-woven carpets, and currently one meter of domestic carpet and one meter of foreign carpet are sold in Afghan markets for up to $20.

Aminullah said last year a six metres carpet made of Belgimi thread was sold up to $1,000 and the same carpet from local thread was sold against $500  but currently, Belgimi carpet was sold against $500 and local carpet against $300.

He asked the government to pay attention to the development of carpet waving and business and remove banking restrictions to facilitate the investment of domestic and foreign businessmen so that Afghan carpets can be exported to the world markets from within the country under the name of Afghanistan.

He also asked local businessmen who have business in the foreign country to work for the promotion of carpet and rug industry in the country.

“Now security is improved in the country, come invest in the growth and strengthening of Afghanistan’s carpets and rugs, make the work environment favorable for the people, and promote your business as well.”

Hameedullah Moalem, another carpet businessman in Andkhoi district, said that local carpet industry had suffered as a result of the import of foreign carpet and people associated with carpet industry were in bad condition.

He said people particularly women have started carpet weaving due to unemployment and economic problems but the import of low-quality and plastic carpets with different designs and cheap prices has attracted customers and caused the domestic carpet industry to stagnate.

He said due economic problems people purchased low quality Iranian and Turkish carpets which are useful for a year but locally produce carpets are useful for a long time and its quality improves with the passage of time.

He said: “A six-metre carpet weaved by three persons in three months cost 10,000 afs, but in current situation it doesn’t cost more than 3,000 afs or 4,000 afs, we are grateful to the government for the security in the country, and at the same time, we expect to pay attention to the marketing and transfer of carpets to global markets from inside Afghanistan and to increase the tax and custom duty on foreign carpets so that Afghan carpets can find their place.”

Mohammad Saleh, head of a carpet business factory, also complained against the stagnated carpet market in the province and said in the past national and international businessmen came to Andkhoi for carpet purchase but after regime change they stopped visiting the district to purchase carpet.

He added: “In the past we offered 15,000 afs for the weaving of a 6-metre carpet, the total cost of the carpet was accounted for 18,000 afs and we sold them in 20,000 afs, but due to stagnated market now we provided 6,000 afs to the weavers, 3,000 afs are the other cost and we sell it in 9,500 afs.”

Carpet weavers:

Mohammad Usman, one of the carpet weavers who brought a 1.5 metres carpet to the market for selling, said two years ago he could sell this carpet against $200 but currently it could be sold for $100.

Usman said: “Two people weaved this carpet in 40 days which cost $65, when it is sold for $100 its profit will be $35 and the two weavers could not get more than 50 afs as daily wage in this rate.”

Praim Nazar, 84, another carpet seller who brought some Qalincha to the market for selling, said in the past he sold each Qalincha against 1,000 afs quickly after entering to the market but currently nobody asked them even for 500 afs.

He said form the past 60 years he supported his family financially through carpet weaving but recently the carpet market had declined and they are facing economic hardship.

Expert carpet weavers:

Abdul Rahman who cut the carpet with scissor, told Pajhwok Afghan News two years ago their business was doing well, they could cut up to 200 metres carpet in a day and each metre accounted for 20 afs but in current circumstances carpet sale and export had declined and they could not cut more than 70 metres daily.

Khairullah, 25, who work to earn livelihood for his eight member family, said in the past they looped up to 400 metes of carpet and rug and charged each metre 10 afs and added currently the carpet market had declined and they could not find more than 250 metres of rug for looping.

Chamber of Commerce:

Abdul Majeed Niyazi, head of the Andkhoi Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the import of Turkish and Iranian carpets, lack of carpet washing factories and facilities to ensure international standards to match the world market and the use of ordinary colors and patterns are the main factors behind the stagnated carpet market in the province.

He said due to the lack of washing factories in the country businessmen must sent their carpets to Pakistan and send to the international market on Pakistani label.

Every month, at least one container of carpet, which is washed and packed in Andkhoi and Aqchah, is exported to Turkey and from there delivered to, and if the Afghan carpet is packed inside the country, no businessman is interested in transporting it to Pakistan

Government position:

Mufti Esmtaullah Muradi, the governor spokesperson acknowledged the carpet weavers and traders regarding the market stagnation and said carpet produced in the Andkhoi, Dawlatabad districts are known internationally but this industry recently witnessed stagnation.

He also linked the decline of local carpet market with the import of Iranian and Turkish carpets.

He said the provincial government leadership In the near future will arrange a meeting with carpet manufacturers and traders, listen to their problems and challenges and raise them with the central authorities and relevant ministries to find a solution.

Akhundzada Abdul Salaam Jawad, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, told Pajhwok Afghan News the ministry worked hard to promote the carpet industry in the country, there are some programmes though NGOs to promote the carpet learning skill, carpet washing factories have been established in the country and in the future Afghanistan carpet will not be exported under the label of Pakistan.

He said last year around 2 million metres carpet accounted $22 million exported to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Italy, Turkiye, US, India, Germany, UAE, China and other countries.

Referring to the increase of custom duty on imported carpet he said: “We can increase customs duty on products when the price inside Afghanistan is reasonable and everyone has access, and on the other hand, we can make sure that our products are sold inside or not.”

He said there was not banking restriction in the country and added whenever a businessman faced any problem they could refer to the ministry for the resolution of their problem.

Expert opinion:

Abdullah, a carpet seller and expert of carpet business, said carpet was considered to be the biggest income source of the people of Faryab during King Zahir Shah rule and after but conflicts, the open market policy of democratic regime and the use of old maps put this industry on the Back foot.

He said a six metres carpet made of local pure thread has the value of $200 but the same size of Iranian and Turkish carpets is sold at $80 and this open market policy has hampered the local carpet industry and encouraged others.

He did not consider banning the import of Iranian and Turkish carpets suitable, but he added that the solution to this problem and the growth of the carpet weaving industry is only to increase custom duty on imports. According to Abdullah the move could help increase in the government revenue and on the other hand, domestic producers could be encouraged and more work opportunities could be created.

In order to get out of the crisis and promote carpet weaving industry in the country he suggested below solutions to the government and international aid organizations.

Completion of the Andkhoi industrial Park which was constructed during republic regime to provide work opportunity for 20,000 people but it had been usurped by mafia groups, creation of modern learning centres where modern carpet maps and skills are shown to the carpet weavers, the move will help the weaving of carpet based on international demand and regaining of the customers trust which had been lost.

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