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How budding small-medium enterprises tap opportunities in paradise – Firstpost

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Cuddled in the lap of the majestic Himalayas, the pencil village of India, Ookhu, thrives along the banks of the Jhelum River, deep inside the heart of the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. The village has rightly earned its name by supplying pencils to the whole nation, surpassing competitors from the reaches of China, beating the precision of Germany, and standing tall as a pioneer of craftsmanship and industry.

On the other hand, the acclaim of the Kashmir willow bat has turned heads with its presence in national and international cricket tournaments. These bats, crafted from the valleys of Kashmir, have long been praised for their superior quality and performance in the cricketing fields. These examples of fine craftsmanship as well as international acknowledgement portray an untold story of Kashmir, a tale of many small-scale industries constantly fueling the fire of innovation and contributing to the economic development of the region.

Kashmir is renowned among people for its mesmerising views and rich cultural heritage, attracting tourists from all the nooks and crannies of the world. Although the place is a famous tourist hub, there is another side of the story that has been overlooked by all. There is an untapped and unacknowledged economic prowess in this region, with Kashmir housing a thriving ecosystem of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

These SMEs not only work to contribute significantly to the economy of the region but also place it on the world map, shedding light on the diverse range of products that are produced here. Let’s unravel the perspective of Kashmir from an economist’s point of view, delving deeper into the various sectors beyond tourism that contribute to driving economic growth, fostering employment among the masses, and providing identity to the region’s unique manufacturing traditions.

The world beyond tourism

Despite being the heralding force of the tourism industry, a cornerstone of Kashmir’s SME sector is also attributed to its vibrant handicraft and handloom industries. The Kashmir produce has been renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship and intricate timeless allure. From handwoven shawls to meticulously crafted papier-mache artefacts, the region’s artisans take pride in their unparalleled skills and artistry in their creations.

The handicrafts and handloom industry of Kashmir produces a wide range of products, which are not only limited to the world-renowned pashmina shawls, carpets, rugs, papier-mache items, wood carvings, and embroidery. These products not only provide sustainable livelihoods to the people of the region but also put the rich heritage of the region at the centre of attention.

Not only do artisanal products shine in the SME industry of the region, but so do the culinary delights, which have been acclaimed far and wide by travellers. The prominence of the traditional Kashmiri wazwan, a perfect blend of the rich heritage of the region, has been a testament to the region’s gastronomic prowess. In terms of the variety of food, which is impressive, another favourite delicacy is the kahwa, made from exotic herbs sourced from the lush meadows of the region.

The food industry of Kashmir attracts people from far and wide to have an authentic taste, as well as helping the local population to be known on the world stage. While talking about the rich culinary expertise of the region, the prominence of being the saffron capital of the world waves a rich tapestry of agricultural activities. Kashmir is known for its wide variety of apples, almonds, walnuts, cherries, and various other dry fruits.

The suitable temperate climate of the region makes it the ideal choice for the cultivation of various varieties, contributing to the income of farmers as well as entrepreneurs alike. The demand for these exotic agricultural commodities not only supports the farmers but also promotes various agro-based SMEs in the region.

Moving on, another important industry is textiles, which has gained recognition in the region for the superior quality of woollen and silk garments. These intricately designed garments are a testament to the skilled workforce and also serve as a souvenir for the people who come to visit Kashmir all year round. The craftsmanship of these skilled people provides not only themselves but also the whole region with a unique identity.

Another important industry that thrives in this valley is the wood carving and furniture industry. The skilled people make use of their craftsmanship to bring life to ordinary items by transforming them into pieces of art and furniture with their signature vibrant hues. These wood-crafters are adept at transforming the beauty of the walnut and cedar trees into furniture and other decorative items. As such, it can be seen that in the region of Kashmir, SMEs are contributing beyond the tag of tourism while supporting the economic upliftment of the local people.

Statistically speaking, as per the annual report of the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for the year 2022–23, the number of registered MSMEs in the Jammu and Kashmir region was 7,09,000. This healthy growth in numbers shows that the region is providing a baseline for the vast entrepreneurial landscape. These encouraging numbers highlight that the region is bustling with diverse and vibrant SMEs, encompassing varied industries that are not only limited to the tourism industry.

These figures show the crucial role that the various SMEs are playing in fostering inclusive growth in the region, addressing the challenges of unemployment…

Read More: How budding small-medium enterprises tap opportunities in paradise – Firstpost

2024-06-19 07:22:55

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