AHEC ‘mini-convention’ in Jodhpur highlights potential for Indian manufacturers to work with American hardwoods

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the
leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry,
along with representatives from two AHEC member companies and from the Indiana
State Department of Agriculture recently travelled to Jodhpur in Rajasthan to
conduct a series of factory visits and to hold a ‘mini-convention’ in
conjunction with the Jodhpur handicrafts sector. Following a successful showing
at DelhiWood, the American hardwood delegation flew to Jodhpur and spent three days
meeting with leading manufacturers, understanding their challenges with regards
to their timber requirements, and exploring new opportunities for American
hardwoods.

AHEC and the Jodhpur Handicrafts Exporters Association (JHEA) hosted around 200 manufacturers at a seminar and networking event at the Taj Vivanta hotel in Jodhpur. The event was declared open by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who highlighted the important contribution of the furniture and handicrafts sector to the Rajasthan economy. During this event, AHEC experts gave presentations on all aspects of American hardwoods, displayed samples of the major species, and answered questions on lumber grading, kiln-drying, environmental credentials and applications. The event also provided a perfect forum for the Jodhpur handicrafts sector to meet members of the US hardwood industry in person and to discuss ways of working together.

The team visited the leading furniture manufacturers in Jodhpur, who currently use significant volumes of hardwood lumber for the production of furniture and handicrafts – almost exclusively for export to the United States, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. More recently, they have had to deal with the challenges of decreasing traditional sources of wood supply, and a strong focus on avoiding any wood products that might come from illegal sources in the main consuming countries of North America and Europe. According to AHEC, an effective strategy to overcome these challenges is to manufacture products from American hardwoods which are not only abundant, but backed by an assurance of legal and sustainable production – which is already well recognised in the main consumer markets.

“There is absolutely no doubt that India offers massive potential for the consumption of American hardwoods across many different sectors and both for domestic and export Manufacturing. Jodhpur is just one centre for the production of wooden furniture and handicrafts…and there are others in Rajasthan, as well as in other states. The scale of manufacturing is significant, and the requirement for hardwood lumber is substantial. This was further highlighted by the Indian companies who attended the event and who expressed a keen interest in starting to import and use American hardwoods for the first time,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC’s regional director.

The mini-convention reflects AHEC’s renewed commitment
to cater to and expand further in India, which has demonstrated a growing
appetite for US hardwoods for a number of years. While US hardwood exports to
India remain very low relation to the potential size of the market, awareness
is increasing, perceptions are changing, and demand is on the rise. AHEC believes
that this is a key time for the industry to redouble its efforts in India and
to try to capitalise on what could be a turning point in the market. With this
opportunity in mind, AHEC declares that it intends to keep up the momentum in
India in the coming months. Based on the success of the Jodhpur event, AHEC is
looking to host a similar event in Jaipur in October, as well as participate in
the MumbaiWood trade show.

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