Artisans from UP, Gujarat pose stiff competition to Kumbharwada potters

  • | Thursday | 9th November, 2023

Pune: Rows of diya stores at Kumbharwada in Kasba Peth deserted through the day in the week leading to Diwali — a rare site over the years — is a bitter reality now. An influx of migrant potters from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat have posed a challenge to the ancient pottery space. Kumbhar Wada artisans business suffered this year under its impact. Artisans from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat bring a variety of designs to sell with the convenience of supplying them on carts to the residents doorsteps. It is profitable to buy diyas from them as they sell it at a lower cost than us. We sell a dozen of diyas for Rs200. They sell as many diyas for around Rs160. As they make items in their hometowns with own material, they dont have to bear the sourcing cost and sell diyas at cheaper rates than us, said Sumati Ashok Kumbhar, a shopowner in Kumbharwada.Local artisans selling matkis claimed that their price was Rs60 for four to six pieces and their competitors sold them for Rs40. We have to pay the clay transportation cost. This competition is disturbing our sales, leaving us with heavy losses compared to our investment in the art, said Sumati. Another artisan working as a potter for over 40 years, told TOI that in a baffling set of events, sales had dropped six days before the festival. Earlier, the business would extend until the day of Lakshmi Pujan.The artisan said, Porters from outside have an array of diya varieties, which we usually cannot make. We source some of them from Bihar. So, we have to sell them at a higher price. The large diyas usually cost around Rs40. We sell them for Rs30 and the migrant artisans for Rs20. This has been the case for 10 years now, but we are being affected a lot from the last year. In 2022, we thought it was because of the pandemic and people were recovering from it. This year, it is evident that we are losing customers because of price disparity. We dont have the option to reduce costs because it will deeply affect our livelihood.While the Kumbharwada artisans opined their losses, several customers praised their quality of work. The sellers that come to our house have a great variety, but most of them crumble in no time. They are old pieces without any colour. The pieces we get at Kumbharwada are locally sourced and more authentic with great quality, said Ananya Kamble, a resident of Hadapsar. Another resident differed. It is more convenient to buy diyas from cart vendors near home at cheaper rates, she said.

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