UP sports cluster needs government attention | SupportBiz

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UP sports cluster needs government attention

Sports gear manufacturers in Uttar Pradesh have figured out that to sustain in today’s competitive environment, they need to enhance their products according to global standards.

The Federation of Indian Micro and Smalland Medium Enterprises (FISME), understanding  this demand of the local manufacturers,  most of them  MSMEs,  has  come up with a roadmap for them. FISME, along with the support from the Ministry of MSME, Government of India, has  established a direct linkage between global consultants and local sports gear manufacturers in Meerut, UP. The main focus  of this initiative is on  manufacturers of cricket bats and other sports goods.

This global exposure will help  the local MSMEs   modernise  their production capabilities,  enabling them to compete with global players.

These manufacturers are struggling to sustain their business growth  in the face of the tough competition  posed by Chinese products.

Speaking about the status of his market, Ravi Dubey, Director of RPR Sports, says, “We are not only suffering  due to cheap imports from China, but also due to scarcity of raw material, increase in excise duty, and unskilled manpower. Instead of thinking about global markets, we are threatened and forced to concentrate on sustaining our businesses  in the Indian market itself.”

Cricket bat manufacturers, dominated by families which migrated to Meerut and Jalandhar from Pakistan after the partition,  may finally have something to cheer about.

The Government of India   seems to have understood this situation of the manufacturers in the cluster.  On his recent visit to Meerut, Vivek Rae, Ex Secretary,  Ministry of MSME, stated, “The availability of skilled manpower and technical know-how is a necessity for this cluster. We must  nurture the potential of clusters like the one in Meerut.”

Other than skillset availability, local manufacturers mostly consider policy framework as a challenge  to their growth.

“We  are disappointed to know that excise duty has increased significantly  in the last couple of years. From 1% in 2011 to 2% in 2012, the excise duty structure has  proved to be a huge blockage in our growth. On the contrary, the excise department does not recognise batting gloves, cricket helmets, speed balls and coaching shields  as sports goods.  We need some strong action at the policy-making level,” says  Ravi.  This  cluster is known for the manufacturing of cricket bats from willow wood, found in the hilly areas of Jammu & Kashmir. The manufacturers largely  import the wood from other countries, making it costlier.

The Process-cum-Product-Development-Center (PPDC) for sports goods and leisure  equipment at Meerut lacks in the availability of facilities  for developing  high-quality leather for making cricket batting gloves, which is known as palm leather.

Arvind Kumar Singh, Meerut-based contract manufacturer of cricket bats and accessories, says, “Raw material is extremely important in the sports product manufacturing business. We have to source the best possible leather for the production of batting gloves and pads. Moreover, the cluster also does not have proper stitching machines for  cricket balls.  If we want to see the best products coming out of the Meerut sports cluster, we have to ensure  the availability of advanced technology  and technical know-how within the cluster.”