The launch of Geographical Indication (GI) for the famed hand-knotted Kashmiri Carpets by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, to revive the sheen and glory of Kashmiri Carpet Industry has bestowed a new lease of life to the carpet trade in Kashmir. The GI certifies the genuineness of Hand-knotted Kashmir Carpets with relevant information of the manufacturer, weaver, district and raw material. An official of the Handicrafts Department said the innovation will go a long way in preserving the quality of hand-knotted carpets. The artisans and traders dealing with the Kashmiri carpet say the initiative was much needed to see Kashmir carpets flourishing again. “Kashmiri carpet was the big brand enough to sell it anywhere in the world but some people were selling Iranian and machine-made carpets in the name of handmade Kashmiri carpets. Now buyers can distinguish between hand and machine-made carpets,” said a group of artisans of village Gadekhoud, known for carpet weaving and artisans here have been weaving carpets for decades. They also said that GI Tagging will fetch better returns to their products and would certainly encourage and motivate younger generation to learn carpet weaving for preserving this art. On February 11 this year, history was created with the launch of QR-code by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, for handmade Kashmir carpets, first-of-its-kind in the country. Customers could now verify the authenticity and other requisite details of carpets produced in Jammu and Kashmir and assure themselves that the product they purchased was not fake. The QR code-based system can help in checking the cheating and misbranding that has badly dented the carpet Industry in Kashmir. The QR-code based label will capture vital parameters of the carpet such as GI user, manufacturer, artisan, knots per square inch, the material used, among others. LG Sinha said that with the help of modern technology, the government will be able to standardise the uniqueness of handmade carpets and boost the export of J&K’s carpets in international markets. The carpets from J&K are being exported to at least 25 countries. In 2020-21, carpets worth Rs 115 crore were exported to Germany while the figures were Rs 34 crore for US, Rs 36 crore for UAE and Rs 22 crore for the Netherlands. The J&K administration is also working on starting a mega carpet village. Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chief, Sheikh Ashiq, has welcomed the launching of QR-code based mechanism. He said the GI tagging of Kashmir’s hand-made carpets would increase exports of Kashmiri handicraft, which have been on decline for the last 3- 4 years. “This GI tagging restores customer’s confidence besides protecting authenticity of artisans,” he said and urged the authorities to provide maximum grants for the QR-code-based mechanism so that artisans can compete in the international market. Addressing a seminar virtually on introduction of GI tag for the carpets, organised by Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) , Ranjan Prakash Thakur, Principal Secretary, Government Industries and Commerce, said the QR code-based mechanism will help in checking the duplicity or fake branding sabotaging the growth of the carpet industry in the valley. “Given the international export size and market competition, it is a prerequisite to safeguard the authenticity of the products for sustainability of the local weavers and exporters,” Thakur said.A month later for the first time, the GI-certified Kashmir silken carpets were exported to Germany which are valued at around 40,000 Euros. The export of the consignment reflects the commitment of the Government to help the artisans, traders of J&K to export their products to international markets for better returns. Any carpet dealer can apply for the GI license and get their products checked to increase their brand value. GI tagging is a process in which knotting of the carpet is tested. Customers can use their mobile phones and scan QR code. He will get a certificate containing all information. Lt Governor recently remarked that Government is determined for providing new markets, create sustainable livelihood for the local artisans, besides preserving rich cultural heritage of J&K.