Cricket bat industry in Kashmir on the verge of closure amid shortage of wood
Manufacturers, however, fear that the shortage of wood (willow) may force them to shut down a Rs 300-crore business that provides livelihood to over one lakh people.
The 102-year-old cricket bat-making industry in Kashmir has raised its bar over the years to compete with the famous ‘English Willow’ (a special type of wood used to make bats). Manufacturers, however, fear that the shortage of wood (willow) may force them to shut down a Rs 300-crore business that provides livelihood to over one lakh people.
Kashmir Cricket Bat Manufacturers Association spokesperson Fawazul Kabir told PTI, “We have been manufacturing cricket bats for the last 102 years. Our bats are of good quality and are approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC). There is no shortage in terms of quality. We are on par with, if not better than, English Willow (the manufacturers who use it).”
“This is evident from the fact that the longest six in the recently held ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia was hit with a Kashmir willow bat,” he said. The longest six of the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was hit against Sri Lanka using a bat manufactured by However, the future of around 400 bat-making units is uncertain as they fear that their factories may close down within five years due to a shortage of wood.
Pointing to afforestation campaigns in Canada and Pakistan, Kabir said, “Willow production is declining rapidly and we fear it may end in the next five years. We are requesting the government to undertake willow plantation drive to ensure continuous supply.” He said that not only in Jammu and Kashmir, more than one lakh people of Jalandhar in Punjab and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh depend on this trade for their livelihood. are dependent.
“In such a scenario where an industry is on the verge of collapse, the government needs to work on a war footing,” he said. Kabir said the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology had last year started training them to grow them. 1,500 willow saplings were delivered but each unit requires a supply of approximately 15,000 willows per year. Kabir said, “As cricket is growing rapidly, the demand for bats will also increase. Two decades ago, a dozen countries used to play cricket. Today this number has increased to about 160.
He said, “Ten years ago, 2.5 to 3 lakh bats were made in Kashmir. These days 30 lakh bats are made every year.” Kabir said that the annual turnover of the bat industry was more than Rs 300 crore. Kabir suggested that the government should consider allowing the plantation of wetlands and river banks where willow trees used to grow. GR8 sports production manager Mohammad Niaz said the government has taken steps to plant willow saplings but it is not enough as per the needs of the industry.
He said, “More cricket leagues are starting around the world and the demand for bats is only going to increase. An official of the Industries and Commerce Department said that while there was no dearth of willow in Kashmir, the main problem faced by the units was lack of modern seasoning technology and smuggling of wood to factories outside Kashmir.
“Seasoning of wood in Kashmir is still done the traditional way and it can take six months to a year,” said the official on condition of anonymity. This locks up the capital of the factory owner and affects his financial condition. In some cases the factories even shut down.” The official said the proposal to set up the seasoning factory was approved a few years ago but was shelved due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Disclaimer:Prabhasakshi has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.
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