KARACHI: The Sindh government has been asked to provide 300 acres of land near Northern Bypass for setting up a Banarsi Cloth City. “We can vie India well in the international market if government departments responsible for promotion of country’s exports provide maximum incentives and subsidy to this sector, said members of the Banarsi Cloth Merchants Association (BCMA). “Pakistani produce has more finishing and quality of work than India but lack of promotion of our craftsmanship to outer world we are depriving foreign exchange earnings.” BCMA urged the government to provide subsidy on the material used in producing cloth and soften the procedure of exporting the product to other countries. Punjab bought around 65 percent of the total production while 30 percent is used in Karachi. “We need government’s attention for enhancing share in the international market as an industry with around 400 small and medium size units with more than 700,000 employees was braving high cost of doing business.” The export of Banarsi cloth during July-December 2016 stood around 135,900 metres, BCMA member Ahmed Ansari said. More than 10,000 looms and the same number of handlooms were working for producing around 100,000 meters daily in Orangi Town, Banaras, New Karachi, Malir and Landhi. Pakistani Banarsi cloth exporters made inroads in the international market and competing against India, the prime manufacturer of this type of cloth in the markets of Dubai, Muscat, South Africa, and European countries. He said, “During the ten years our exports registered around 18 percent increase and currently our cloth production stood at 33 million meter per annum.” He said, “If government provides us with soft loans, announces tax exemption to units running with more than 10 looms and allow import of pure silk on lower tax regime, we can enhance our exports manifold.” Huda, a loom owner, said, “The government should give our sector, status of cottage industry in real terms besides State Bank of Pakistan to direct commercial banks for soft loans on easy installments on providing reasonable surety.” There should be government assistance to provide help for establishing a skill workers institute in this sector like skill promotion centres in gold jewellery, stone and other craftsmanship sectors in the country. To some extent Hyderabad is also known for its quality in producing banarsi cloth. In Shershah the fabrics are woven on a large scale. After independence a large number of weavers migrated from Delhi and Banaras and set up workshops in Lahore, Karachi and Khairpur. These weavers have continued to weave these brocades in traditional patterns. It is a well-known fact that cottage industries can play a significant role in the development of any economy. The people in this industry deserve great applause for their staunch dedication to continue their work and to earn their livelihood no matter what the trails of hardship may be. Banaras Town was established in 1964 and is the place where the original weavers and their families were first settled with an innate skill of making banarsi fabrics as adept artisans. This trade has also opened outlets in Banaras Town area, craving to make it big with mere hard work. Techniques include handloom, power loom, graphic design, and cultivation of thread. Handlooms are being replaced with the power looms due to the technological advancement plus the rise in demand.