The handloom export of India was worth Rs.2,240 crore a year ago which has come down to Rs.1,500 crore in the fiscal 2015-16, states the annual report of the textile ministry.

The latest statistics of the ministry indicate that the handloom sector needs an urgent attention. Share of handloom in total textile export at an all time low at 10 per cent, changing consumer preference and slowdown in EU and US to be blamed but India’s handloom export has declined by 30 per cent within a year after a gradual rise for several years, according to government figures.

Handloom, a fabric woven by hand, makes up over a tenth of India’s total fabric production. With 43 lakh people directly involved in the production, it is the second largest employer after agriculture.

Since 2015, the government has started celebrating National Handloom Day on 7th August to promote hand woven products and support the weavers. However, the sector suffers from lack of modernization and availability of raw material at a reasonable price.

An initiative to give a big push to the weavers with the help of top designers of India has started at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, known for Benarasi sarees, and a few other clusters. They are trying hard to market their products at international level by holding exhibitions and by roping in e-commerce platform, but it is still a long way to go,” an official report admitted.

According to observers, Smriti Irani has a tough job ahead considering the challenges of the entire textile sector. With GST in place, the sector will be affected more.