AHEC seeks to tap Rajasthan exporters

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, along with representatives from two member companies and from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, travelled to Jodhpur (Rajasthan) in order to conduct a series of factory visits and to hold a ‘mini-convention’.

Following a successful showing at DelhiWood, the American delegation flew to Jodhpur in April and spent 3 days meeting with leading manufacturers, understanding their challenges with regards to their timber requirements, and exploring new opportunities for American hardwoods, particularly for products destined for exports.

AHEC and the Jodhpur Handicrafts Exporters Association (JHEA) hosted around 200 manufacturers at a seminar and networking event, which was opened by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who highlighted the important contribution of the furniture and handicrafts sector to the Rajasthan economy.

AHEC experts gave presentations on all aspects of American hardwoods, displayed samples of the major species, and answered questions on lumber grading, kiln-drying, environmental credentials and applications.

The event also provided a perfect forum for the Jodhpur handicrafts sector to meet members of the US hardwood industry in person and to discuss ways of working together.

The team visited the leading furniture manufacturers in Jodhpur, all of who currently use significant volumes of hardwood lumber for the production of furniture and handicrafts, almost exclusively for export to the US, Europe, Australia and West Asia.

More recently, they have had to deal with the challenges of decreasing traditional sources of wood supply, and a strong focus on avoiding any wood products that might come from illegal sources in the main consuming countries of North America and Europe.

According to AHEC, an effective strategy to overcome these challenges is to manufacture products from American hardwoods, which are not only abundant but backed by an assurance of legal and sustainable production, which is already well recognized in the main consumer markets.

“There is absolutely no doubt that India offers massive potential for the consumption of American hardwoods across many different sectors and both for domestic and export manufacturing. Jodhpur is just one centre for the production of wooden furniture and handicrafts. There are others in Rajasthan, as well as in other states,” said Mr. Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.

While US hardwood exports to India remain very low relative to the potential size of the market, awareness is increasing, perceptions are changing, and demand is on the rise.

“AHEC believes that this is a key time for the industry to redouble its efforts in India and to try to capitalize on what could be a turning point in the market,” he added. (www.americanhardwood.org).

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