Weavers and artisans in India will now have access to a regular stream of buyers in Japan through a scheme under which the Japanese government will source products from here and help market them in their country.
Called the “One Village One Product” project, the scheme will help artisans here have a dedicated set of buyers in Japan to whom they can supply regularly.
Earlier this week, the first project-related event was inaugurated in Tokyo wherein handicraft from a village near Trichy (Tamil Nadu) were displayed at an exhibition organized by the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro).
The One Village One Product scheme was set up during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan last year.
“The focus of the scheme will be on handicrafts and home furnishings,” says Naoyoshi Noguchi, director general of Jetro. According to Noguchi, the Trichy project was initiated at the insistence of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
“We are awaiting response from the commerce ministry for products from other villages which can be exhibited in Japan,” he said.
The products sourced from Trichy have been labelled “Touch India” for the exhibition. The commerce ministry selects villages for participation in the project.
The prototypes of wares produced by artisans in Indian villages are sent to Japan through Jetro and its parent, the ministry of economy, trade and industry.
If traders and businessmen based in Japan were to be interested in dealing in some products, then they are brought in contact with the suppliers here.
The problem with such projects, however, has been that the artisans and weavers in India do not have adequate capital or the tools needed to take up large orders, says the Jetro official.
“We had earlier done a similar project in Madhya Pradesh. We had to bring all the materials to a workshop in Delhi because the artisans did not have a place where they could work from,” says the Jetro official.
The scheme was initiated by the Japanese government to source products from rural areas and sell them in cities there in the 1990s.
It was later extended by Japan to Thailand in 2002 under Thaksin Shinawatra. Thailand sells over a hundred products from gems and jewellery, textiles and food products to stationery through the scheme.