Kashmir Wool Industry In Shambles

15 February 2009
Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Most wool processing units setup by J&K government are closed or inoperative, experts in the field say that the concerned agencies are in ‘deep slumber’ and not taking any steps to rescue the industry. Presently J&K annually produces 64 lakh kilograms of wool, but it is not processed in the state, the proper infrastructure in place notwithstanding. On the contrary, the wool produced here is procured by outsiders for processing in Punjab and Haryana. Interestingly, after processing the finished products like blankets, crewel yarn, and many other items are supplied to Kashmir. However situation was not same. In 1974 the wool production in the state was 14 lakh kgs of which one third was fine quality wool from the crossbred local imported merino sheep, rest was short stapled wool. 700,000 kg was spun and woven by over 30,000 workers in the public and private sectors. Some 400,000 kgs of wool of fine quality was used by the public sector and three Khadi organizations-Dastkar Anjuman, Gandhi Ashram and the Khadi and village industries commission. 300,000 kgs was utilized by a community weavers engaged in the manufacturing of gabbas and namdas¸ a traditional industry of the state, by using short staple fibers. 400,000 kg of wool was imported from other states. Sources said the state produces wool worth Rs 25 crore annually but the farmers and sheep breeders are not getting even Rs 5 crores as most of the wool is getting damaged during storage stage. A senior official said that every year the state imports woolen and textile fabrics like tweeds, blankets, blazers made of the state raw material from Punjab and Haryana for Rs 100 crore. He said, “If the state government takes concrete steps to utilize the raw wool it would create jobs both in private and public sector.” Sources said the state government departments, sources said annually purchases woolen textiles worth nearly Rs 10 crore, which could have been easily manufactured here in the valley both in private and public sector.