Efforts to Tap Potential

Efforts to Tap PotentialEfforts to Tap Potential

Despite the expertise of Iranian artisans and the country’s long history in handicraft export, the industry is in free fall. At one point, Iran’s revenue from handicraft export surpassed $1 billion per annum.

“Our revenue is miniscule and we have allowed other countries, such as Pakistan, to corner the market,” said Hossein Yavari, a handicraft expert, during a press conference on Wednesday, IRNA reported.

Handicraft is a 30-billion-dollar industry, according to Yavari, and Iran’s share of the industry’s global turnover is a meager $500,000 — 0.001%.

“The industry is in decline. In 1994, Iran earned $1.6 billion from the export of carpets alone. We had predicted to rake in upwards of $5 billion by now,” he said.

  Lack of Faith

Yavari denounced the officials’ lack of faith in the industry, and said, “They are not willing to accept that investing in handicraft can help create jobs and boost the economy.

“No other country in the world has separate organizations to oversee handicraft and carpet production, but we do. We are essentially wearing ourselves thin by spreading manpower across two organizations which should really be one.”

Yavari stressed that while it would be unfair to expect the government to singlehandedly revive the industry, it is expected to pave the way for the private sector’s investment in handicrafts.

  Reviving the Industry

Bahman Namvar Motlaq, a deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, echoed Yavari’s sentiments, and added, “We have reached a deal with the Imam Reza (AS) Mehr Fund to secure funding for artisans and help develop the industry.”

Motlaq lamented the current state of the industry and pointed the finger of blame at the previous government. “Handicraft sales have dwindled. By the end of the last administration’s term, over 40% of handicraft workshops had shut down,” he said.

“Since President Hassan Rouhani’s administration was voted into office, however, employment and sales have both experienced a positive trend.”

Art and craft have long been a major part of Iranian culture. Most provinces have their own unique handicraft created with bare hands. With proper investment, the industry can become a pillar of Iran’s economy.