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Printers’ Milan Eastern UP Conducted by OPA

19 June 2024: The region of eastern Uttar Pradesh includes the districts of Bahraich, Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ballia, Azamgarh, Faizabad, Sultanpur, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Allahabad, and Pratapgarh. This area remains one of the most underdeveloped in India, struggling with low human development index scores and economic prosperity. The lack of well-developed industries and employment opportunities has led to significant brain drain. The Printing and Packaging sector is no exception, as local printers are often behind in adopting the latest techniques, developments, and innovations in the field. To address these challenges and promote growth in the Printing and Packaging sector, the OPA has undertaken efforts to understand and address issues faced by printers in the region. As part of the Printers’ Milan project, OPA recently conducted a visit to the area.

The journey began in Lucknow, where members of Lucknow Printers Association welcomed the OPA delegation with a dinner in their honour. The main topics of discussion included the status of the printing industry, GST reates and the need to transition towards packaging. This Printer Meet in Lucknow was highly interactive and successful, with a detailed discussion of the challenges faced by local printers. The printers in Lucknow were very energetic and openly shared their difficulties.

After an overnight stay in Lucknow, we continued our journey on June 5, 2024, towards Ayodhya, where the printers of Faizabad and Ayodhya awaited the OPA delegation. This marked the first-ever meeting between the printers of the twin cities. Encouraged by the OPA delegation, the printers agreed to form an association. We engaged in a detailed discussion about remaining competitive by adopting the latest techniques. Due to the lack of adequate machinery and modern techniques, most of the printing work is outsourced from Gorakhpur or Lucknow. The printers expressed strong interest in Government of India’s CDP project and were enthusiastic about forming a cluster to foster the overall development of the printing and packaging sector in the region.

After meeting the printers and spending the night in Ayodhya, we departed for our next destination, Gorakhpur, on June 6, 2024. It was exciting to meet the Gorakhpur printers over breakfast. The Master Printers Welfare Association, Gorakhpur, hosted the meeting, where we discussed the current situation and potential solutions for the challenges faced by the industry. Key topics included the Government of India’s Cluster Development Project (CDP) by the Ministry of MSME, GST rates, and sustainable printing practices. A large contingent of printers is expected to participate in the International Conference in Ayodhya in September 2024. We were truly grateful for the significant turnout of printers, especially considering it was a working day and the start of their shifts.

That same evening, we had a dinner meeting with the printers of Allahabad. The President and Secretary of Allahabad Printers’ Welfare Association joined us to discuss the GST rates on book production. A major topic of discussion was the reluctance to shift towards packaging due to the lack of industries in Purvanchal. The OPA delegation emphasized that packaging is necessary even in non-industrial areas. Printers can cater to the packaging needs of small manufacturers, traders, and suppliers. Packaging is all around us; opportunities include supplying packaging to restaurants, hotels, and various other establishments to meet their daily needs. We must step out of our comfort zones and seek out available opportunities. The discussion was fruitful, and the APWA decided to collaborate closely with the OPA for the growth and development of the printing and packaging sector.

OPA delegation arrived in Agra on June 8, 2024, to meet with local printers, discuss their challenges, and invite them to participate in the International Conference in Ayodhya. Agra is known for newspaper and book production, yet despite the presence of many printers, there is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for the latest developments. Printers in Agra often work in close competition with one another due to misunderstandings and the absence of a unified association. Misconceptions about GST rates led to a detailed discussion on GST and the challenges faced in maintaining the industry. Through persistent efforts by OPA delegation, the printers of Agra expressed a strong interest in forming an association.

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