American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) recently organised educational seminars – for hardwood end users (furniture manufacturers) and importers – in Jodhpur and Jaipur in cooperation with two of Rajasthan’s key industry associations.
The first seminar was held in Jodhpur with the assistance of Jodhpur Handicrafts Exporters Association (JHEA), while the second was held in Jaipur with the assistance of Federation of Rajasthan Handicrafts Exporters (FORHEX). With around 200 manufacturers in attendance across the two events, AHEC was able to give them an overview of the U S hardwood resource, legality, sustainability and wide range of species, and hardwood lumber grading with a practical demonstration.
Based on the assessment of the seminars, AHEC is of the view that the Indian market for American hardwoods is turning a corner. Indian furniture and handicraft manufacturers, primarily located in Jodhpur and Jaipur, two of the country’s major wood product manufacturing centers, are exploring the potential to work with different hardwoods, and this provides an opportunity for certain American hardwood species, feels AHEC.
“The scale of furniture and handicraft manufacturing in Rajasthan is massive and at least three quarters of what is produced is destined for export markets in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. AHEC believes that American tulipwood, as well as American cherry, soft maple, hard maple and sap gum, could all work well in the products being produced in Rajasthan. However, it is crucial that the key industry players are made fully conversant with what is available from the United States and also the NHLA lumber grading rules,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania.
Wiles added that through last year, exports of American hardwood lumber to India continued to remain somewhat haphazard, with little sign of settling in to a steady pattern. “While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that US hardwood species are becoming better known and that there is a need for greater volumes and a greater variety of imported kiln-dried hardwoods for the furniture and interiors sector, the volumes imported remain at a very low level,” he said. Wiles also felt that market developments have already had an impact on the furniture sector and factories are investigating alternative hardwood species.