Koppal: “We live in fear of losing our jobs as work has decreased. I have no other skills. (grading hair size). Let us see. But God is there,” said a worker employed in a hair processing unit. This worker, who is illiterate, is unable to understand the depreciation of the rupee and its consequences.
Thousands of workers employed at hair processing units in Bhagyanagar, adjacent to Koppal, may be rendered jobless as the demand for processed hair has fallen in the international market, thanks to falling rupee.
Bhagyanagar, which has carved a niche for itself with hair exports, has a population of about 20,000. This industry has given thousands a livelihood at the rate of Rs 200-300 a day. Their job is to grade the size of hair. People from other states have been employed in these units, although they are few.
The processed human hair is exported to China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Italy and USA for wigs. The annual turnout of the hair export business in India is estimated to be around Rs 3,000 crore. The fall in rupee is likely to affect them as they will be forced to sell hair at cheaper rates, affecting their profits.
Srinivas Gupta, proprietor, Srinivas Hair Industries, said that although the export is still profitable, business has come down by 50 percent as compared to the last month. “We aren’t receiving orders from foreign countries. If the situation continues, we will be forced to reduce staff,” he stated.
Gupta, who has received the top exporter award 12 times, said human hair offered at temples in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and other states is purchased during auctions. The short and long hairs are separated and processed. Wigs require hair longer than six inches, while shorter strands are sold to rug manufacturers, he said.
Small-scale hair processing unit owners lament that after the fall of rupee the price of the processed hair has also fallen. The selling price is now lower than the processing costs.