The industrially progressive state of Karnataka has been instrumental in the growth and development of the leather industry of India. Karnataka started out as a small player in the Indian leather industry. The proactive initiatives by the government helped the state leather industry to strengthen its position at the national level. As the leather industry flourished in the state, it underwent many changes that helped it to become modernised and more efficient.
Today the leather industry in Karnataka has the potential to impart training, generate employment and contribute to the state’s economy.
Beginning of the leather industry in Karnataka
The leather sector in the state took its initial steps when Sir. M. Visvesvaraya established a Tannery Production Centre to fulfil the requirements of leather processing. The Tannery Production Centre was the first of its kind in the entire South India. It was a boost for the nascent leather sector in the state.
Features of the leather industry in Karnataka
The main features of the Karnataka leather industry are:
- The Karnataka leather industry generates income for people mostly belonging to the weaker section of the society.
- A major part of the leather sector is concentrated in small scale sector or cottage sector
- Karnataka produces high quality leather and leather products
Strengths of the leather industry in Karnataka
The main strength of the Karnataka leather industry is its human resource. Karnataka has skilled and semi-skilled manpower required for manufacturing leather and leather products. It has the required facilities to train people and enable them to become efficient workers of the industry.
Segments of the leather industry in Karnataka
The leather industry in Karnataka comprises of various segments, namely, tanning and finishing, footwear and footwear components, leather garments, leather goods, etc.
The capital city of Bengaluru is a major production centre for leather and leather goods that are manufactured in Karnataka. The state has more than 88 manufacturing units that produce footwear, garments and other products made from leather.
Encouraging Role of the State Government
The state government of Karnataka has been encouraging and contributing towards the growth of the industry on a regular basis. The government has been providing support to institutions that provide courses and impart training related to the leather sector. This is being done in order to increase manpower for the industry and improve the quality of the existing workforce. All these are aimed at better production of leather and leather goods, with an eye to improve the GDP.
Karnataka Leather Industries Development Corporation
The Karnataka Leather Industries Development Corporation Ltd (LIDKAR), renamed as Dr. Babu Jagjivan Ram Leather Industries Development Corporation Ltd., is a significant name in the leather industry of the state. It was established by Government of Karnataka in the year 1976. It was established with the dual objective of developing the leather industry in Karnataka and improving the socio-economic conditions of the leather artisans in the state.
At present the administrative control of the Corporation is under the Social Welfare Department. The Corporation follows a number of developmental and commercial programmes in order to fulfil the above objectives. It imparts training programmes for skill development and income generation. The Corporation also arranges for publicity of the marketable goods through various mediums. It is involved in the establishment of R&D centres, workshops and mini leather parks.
Challenges of the leather industry in Karnataka
There are quite a few challenges that threaten to impact the leather industry in the state. Some of the major challenges faced by the industry are:
- A large portion of the industry is still in an unorganized state and has limited scope of acquiring finances needed for producing leather and/or leather products
- Quiet a few players of the industry are still ignorant about the international quality standards
- Reduction of tanning activities in the state due to economic and environmental reasons is impacting the leather industry
- Unavailability of the raw material (finished leather) on time is becoming a cause of concern for the industry
Future perspective of the leather industry in Karnataka
The demand for leather goods is on the rise in the international market. The domestic demand is also expected to show a positive growth trend. With the state government paying special attention for the growth of the industry, the future seems to hold out much hope and prospect for the leather industry in Karnataka.