Agra footwear industry for mega leather cluster
The Agra footwear industry has demanded creation of Mega Leather Cluster here to boost private capital flow in the organised segment and enhance capacity to keep pace with future growth prospects.
The industry also wants major policy changes for creating better infrastructure facilities, capacity building and skilled labour development.
The Centre had proposed to set up seven mega leather clusters in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
“The proposal to set up the cluster over 30 acres land is grossly inadequate, since even individual units in China are bigger than this size. Our formal suggestion to the Centre is to create Mega Leather Cluster of 150-200 acres,” Agra Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Chamber (AFMEC) president Puran Dawar told Business Standard.
AFMEC wants that the Centre should encourage the entry of new players in the organised leather footwear segment. Industry is concerned over growing trained labour shortage and the lack of proper initiative at any level to address this problem.
“The footwear industry is so labour intensive that for an order of five lakh pairs, a labour force of 250-300 is needed, which is hard to come by now-a-days due to several reasons, including other employment avenues available to workers such as under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme,” he added.
There are programmes run by Footwear Design and Development Institute, Central Leather Research Institute, Council for Leather Exports and Central Footwear Training Institute. “However, most of these programmes are for supervisory level staff and not for workers,” he rued.
Dawar is also the North Region chairman of Council for Leather Exports under the union commerce and industry ministry. He is the managing director of Agra-based footwear manufacturer Dawar Group.
Meanwhile, the industry was mulling a programme to train junior high school students in the craft. “The idea is to customise a footwear vocational training programme to teach basic skills to students. They will learn an employment-oriented skill, which is in high demand in footwear industry and also earn some money,” Dawar added.
Meanwhile, under the Assistance to States for Developing Export Infrastructure (ASIDE) scheme, he said a modern infrastructure for the footwear industry has been proposed.
Under this plan, a hi-tech design studio, a testing lab and a trade centre in Agra would be set up over 10 acres. The estimated cost of the projects is Rs 40 crore, of which 10-15 per cent would be borne by the industry.
Agra is the largest footwear manufacturing hub in India with an estimated annual manufacturing value of almost Rs 10,000 crore.
The Centre is targeting to double India's leather exports to 8.5 billion US dollars by 2013-14 up from 4 billion dollars through improved capital flow, credit access and marketing support. Pan-India, the leather industry employs 2.5 million people.