Handmade Paper Journey from Valley to the Peak the Indians is said to hold the credit of having used paper from cellulose fibers during third century BC. Skilled Indian makers use a variety of raw materials for making handmade papers. The handmade paper in India is produced mainly by recycling waste agro raw materials such as cotton rags, in the form of tailor cutting, hosiery cutting; and small quantities of waste paper.
Other agro fibers like jute, straw, banana are also used to blend with the primary fibers for effect purpose etc. The major states for acquiring raw material for manufacturing are Tamilnadu, Kanpur, Mumbai etc. The process to make is also Eco-friendly i.e. there is no machinery involvement or any kind of chemical usage done.
They come in appealing varieties, with small dried flowers and leaves, colored fiber etc., making them attractive. It's popularity is increasing day by day due to the effective inbuilt qualities as it has huge tensile, bursting, tearing and double fold strength as compared to mill paper and it does not turn brittle due to aging. The possibilities for what can be accomplished with handmade paper and paper pulp are limitless. These are effectively used in making a variety of decorative items, greeting cards, wallpapers, carry bags, gift boxes, art portfolios and much more.
Also in the stationery field many items like paper letterheads, visiting cards, envelopes, note pads, memo cubes and many more items are seen to be made of this. Today, this industry has approximately 157 working units all over the country. The paper industry in India could be roughly categorized into three according to the raw material used that is wood based, agro based and waste paper based. A wide range of raw materials, such as bamboo, wood grass, rice and wheat straw, jute, rags and waste paper are made available for paper and board making. The Indian pulp and paper industry has recently experienced enormous growth, coupled with consolidation due to the value addition activities like embossing embroidery on handmade paper etc.
The industry in India offers considerable potential to meet the increasing demand for paper products in an environmentally sound way. Delhi is an ideal location to find both of these materials because it has a thriving rag trade, which provides abundance of old cloth and vast amounts of used paper. The cost difference between handmade paper and millmade paper is marginal. The concern about the disappearance of forests, coupled with renewed interest in the quality of papers generated new study of the paper maker's materials, especially the pulps and fibers. With several technological changes taking place in the paper industry, the government has to rethink its land use policies and conservation strategies to protect the natural resources.
The Indian government has provided funds to different supplying councils like KVIC (Khadi & Village Industries Commission) which tie up with banks and through banks provide funds to promising entrepreneurs who want to start handmade paper making business. Seven years back UNDP provided funds to improve activities further in the industry which gave a lot of exposure of that market. Also the government had come out with REGP plans (Rural Employment Generation Program) where the government gave loans to village people to start small handmade paper units thus boosting the rural areas to further develop. India is said to produce approximately Rs.
21crore worth of handmade papers, providing full time employment to around 10,000 persons in the rural areas. They also plan to carry out similar activities in northeastern states also to boost the northeastern regions of paper industry. This year two major units, The Sthaneshwar Handmade Paper P.
C.I.S. LTD and Handmade Paper & Board Industries under the KVIC sector won National Award through the president of India for supplying best quality products. Mr.
K.Sudhakar - Dy.Director I/C (Handmade Paper and Fiber industry) is of the opinion that the "Handmade Paper products is a real treasure with full of creative, innovative and thought provoking ideas and the industry has got an excellent future because of value addition and export oriented prospective." The sector also plans to tab or explore the very big area of packaging industries be it for medicine packaging or fertilizer packaging etc. Even the Internal Trade Fairs like PAPEREX have been fruitful trade encouraging activities. This year in PAPEREX 2005, Carlton Coats Pvt.
Ltd. were the ones to win the 1st prize. Each unit in India is said to roughly provide fifty crores worth material. Most of these units have become totally export oriented. Ever growing International market for Handmade Paper Though countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines have already emerged as `handmade paper giants'; India is being looked upon as the country with the maximum growth potential. The country is almost self-sufficient in manufacture of most varieties of handmade papers.
There has been phenomenal growth in the export market for Indian Handmade Paper and its products, especially in the developed countries like the United States of America, West Germany, European Countries, Australia etc. The last decade witnessed rapid growth in export as a number of Handmade Paper and paper products manufacturing units have become hundred percent export oriented units and helped in increasing the foreign exchange of the country. The export of handmade paper and paper products from the last two year was estimated for around fifty crores and this year the approximate growth was estimated to be 20% more and in the coming years it is said to be growing in many folds or multiples.
The Eco-friendly quality and long shelf life of the handmade paper fetches a high premium in the international market. Exports from Sanganer alone accounts for nearly 70 percent of the total handmade paper exports from India. The paper and allied products are sold in the US, Australia, Japan, Britain and South Africa.
Besides paper sheets, items like paper bags, sacks, gift wrappers, art books, photo albums, diaries gift boxes and photo frames find ready buyers abroad. The international demand for handmade paper and its value-added products are increasing at an approximate rate of 30-35 percent a year, which is phenomenal compared to five-seven percent a decade back. The industry, however, has weaknesses in terms of market concentration to a few countries and lack of technology for product conversion resulting into low production capacity. Other than this other threat that would have to be overcome would be the competition being posed by more pioneering countries like China. But it is said that like any other commodity, handmade paper too goes through a cyclical trend depending upon the demand-supply scene in the international markets. Even the prices in the domestic market are inextricably linked with the paper price movements internationally.
But the growing preference for environment-friendly products worldwide and increasing demand for handmade paper products have eradicated the limitations of the handmade paper industry and once again it has emerged as one of the market leaders. In the era of globalization, handmade paper is one of the prime sectors, which has a major say.
Karishma Roy works at Netlink Solutions (India)
Limited as a Web Content Writer