The Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), which comes under the commerce ministry, has taken up a task to upskill artisans engaged in manufacturing Kolhapuri chappals and help them connect with buyers to boost footwear sales in domestic and global markets, an official has said. FDDI Managing Director Arun Kumar Sinha said that the training programme for the artisans is likely to kick-start from next month.
“There is a huge demand for this product in both domestic and global markets. Upskilling artisans in areas like proper designing and use of good color will help them in marketing products more effectively,” Sinha told. He added that the youth engaged in the business needs to be encouraged. “I am focusing on this with priority. We can also invite the artisans to interact with students and faculty of FDDI,” Sinha said.
To promote Kolhapuri chappals, the government has already granted Geographical Indication (GI) tag to these footwears, which are handmade. A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural, or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin. Once a product gets this tag, any person or company can not sell a similar item under that name.
The main districts where these chappals are manufactured include Kolhapur, Solapur, Sangli, and Satara in Maharashtra and Dharwad, Belgaum, Bagalkot, and Bijapur in Karnataka. People engaged in the business suggested for proper training of the artisans in the sector so that good quality products can be exported from India.
One young entrepreneur from Kolhapur Anurag Kokitkar, who started the ‘Paytaan’ brand, said that there is an urgent need to improve the skills of the artisans as there is a huge demand for these footwears in the global markets.
“The government has taken initiatives for the sector but they are not implemented properly. Export demand is there in all big countries including Europe, America, and Australia but we are not able to manufacture at a large scale. We also need to work on the standards,” Kokitkar said. He added that awareness is there about these products because of the presence of Indians in all countries.
The leather used in making these chappals is processed by using natural ingredients and they are handmade. Exports of these chappals during April-August 2020-21 stood at Rs 68.5 lakh. In 2019-20, shipments were recorded at Rs 1.74 crore. Top export destinations include Australia, France, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Singapore, and South Africa.
The FDDI was set up in 1986, under the aegis of the commerce ministry, with the objectives of developing human resources by imparting appropriate knowledge and skills to promote the growth of footwear and allied industry in the country.