Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s furniture and handicraft industry has witnessed a setback in some recent years due to various problems such as lack of contemporary machinery, rampant power outage, scarcity of Sheesham wood, and dearth of skilled workforce.
Weakening of furniture markets in the country has caused a hefty loss of $5 billion to the exchequer of Pakistan.
Fourteen thousand people are connected to a number of furniture manufacturing units in Tehkal Bala and Nauthia areas of Peshawar. However, due to the lack of opportunities, wood artisans have settled to other countries for better prospects. According to a report, the number of skilled furniture workers in Peshawar has reduced to an alarming level of 300 fairly recently.
It is a no secret that the home furniture and handicrafts industry of Peshawar is capable of producing high-quality products with their clientele in Germany, Spain, Italy, United States and Arab Countries; Prevailing problems especially shortage of electricity, have led the furniture market of the city to follow a downward trend.
The Common Facilitation, Manufacturing and Training Centre (CFMTC), spanning 20 kanals in Hayatabad, Peshawar, is still non-operational. Although, it is equipped with modern machinery of millions of rupees, and many other facilities such as a wood bank, wood seasoning units, and a display centre, the non-operational status of the centre adds further insult to the furniture industry’s injury. According to Furniture Dealers, Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Mr Yousaf Shah, the CFTMC could not be made operational despite approaching different people in this regard. He also stated that the proposal to purchase German machinery had been made, but the authorities concerned procured the machinery from China.
If CTFMC started working, it would start training young people and thus bolster the furniture industry, he added.
According to an artisan, Sheesham wood currently costs Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per foot. Though Deodar, Mulberry Oak, and Walnut wood is also used in the manufacturing home furniture, they do not meet the durability standards. Italian, Oriental, Mughal and retro styles of furniture items are currently in demand. He stated further that the furniture products made in Mardan and Swat are also commendable, but the products manufactured in Peshawar are stupendous in quality and are durable as well.
The decline being faced by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s furniture industry is indeed upsetting not only the artisans who make their bread and butter through the furniture industry, but also for country’s economy. Stern actions are needed to be taken on emergency basis to rescue this potential avenue and save it from destruction.
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