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Amer Rugs facilitates meeting between Afghan, Indian rug weavers

Summit to study feasibility of incorporating Indian weaving methods in Afghanistan

Amer Rugs President Tanuj Gupta, center, stands alongside Rob Leahy, left, and Richard Ringrose during a summit between weavers from India and Afghanistan.
Norcross, Ga.--Handmade rug producer Amer Rugs and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force recently facilitated a meeting between rug weavers from Afghanistan and India.

A 15-member delegation of weavers from Afghanistan met with representatives from Amer Rugs and its parent company, Saraswati Global Private, Ltd., in May during a study tour to measure the feasibility of migrating Indian rug weaving techniques into the existing Afghan weaving framework. This meeting happened as part of the AIRTF to bolster rug production in Afghanistan, especially since rug production in that country has seen a decline of nearly 80% since the U.S. military drawdown in 2007.

When asked how he felt the meeting went, Amer Rugs President Tanuj Gupta’s simple reply was, “Amazing.”

In addition to Gupta, who hosted the delegation at Saraswati’s home offices in Jaipur, Rob Leahy, subject matter expert for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and himself a rug retailer was among the attendees during the three-day tour of Saraswati’s facilities. Leahy has also been instrumental in advocating for not only this meeting, but for assisting the Afghan people in reconstructing and growing their economy through the woven art. To that end, Leahy has worked with leaders in the Afghan weaving community to establish the Afghan Carpet Center of Excellence (ACCOE), which Leahy himself writes in his blog, “The central goal is to find areas where a national approach would create synergy in dealing with shipping companies, finance companies, and with their own government.”

Both Gupta and Leahy share a similar vision in educating, assisting, and empowering the Afghan weaving community as a path to improving its faltering national economy.

The delegation visited every major facility within Saraswati’s production process. Of note to the delegation was Saraswati’s dyeing facility, of which they had never seen something on that scale. However, the delegation was most impressed with Saraswati’s finishing facilities, especially given that Afghanistan has little effective domestic shearing, washing, and rug finishing. 90% of Afghan rugs are currently sent to Pakistan or Turkey for finishing, according to Leahy.

When asked if future meetings are in the works, Gupta said that discussions were already in the works for another meeting, and that the knowledge that the Afghan delegation acquired could be put to immediate use once back in their home country. Both Gupta and Leahy considered this first step in collaboration a success.

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