OPA's Purvanchal outreach

Ludhiana’s Offset Printers Association (OPA) has initiated a programme — the Printers’ Milan project — under which a group of its members visits regions in India that are considered among the least developed, with low human development index scores and economic prosperity.

21 Jun 2024 | By Noel D'Cunha

The OPA delegation in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh

The eastern region of Uttar Pradesh (Purvanchal) — which includes several districts such as Bahraich, Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ballia, Azamgarh, Faizabad, Sultanpur, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Allahabad, and Pratapgarh — is one such region, where the OPA delegation travelled to from 4 to 8 June 2024, to understand the challenges, discuss solutions and promote growth in the printing and packaging industry.

Kamal Chopra of OPA informed PrintWeek that the lack of well-developed industries and employment opportunities has led to a significant brain drain. “The printing and packaging sector in this region is also struggling, as local printers have been slow to adopt the latest techniques and innovations in the field.”

The journey began in Lucknow on 4 June, when members of the Lucknow Printer's Association welcomed the OPA delegation and hosted a dinner meeting. The main topics of discussion included the status of the printing industry, GST rates, and the need to transition towards packaging. “The Printer Meet in Lucknow was highly interactive and successful, with a detailed discussion of the challenges faced by local printers, who were very energetic and openly shared their difficulties,” said Chopra.

En route, the delegation also visited Ayodhya (where an international conference will be hosted in September 2024) before reaching Gorakhpur on 6 June. The delegation met the Gorakhpur printers over breakfast to discuss industry challenges and potential solutions, including the Government of India's Cluster Development Project (CDP) and sustainable printing practices.

That evening, the delegation met with printers in Allahabad to discuss GST rates on book production and the need to shift towards packaging in non-industrial areas. "The OPA delegation emphasised the importance of packaging for small manufacturers, traders, and suppliers. The Allahabad Printers Welfare Association agreed to collaborate with the OPA to grow the printing and packaging sector," said Chopra.

On June 8, 2024, the OPA delegation arrived in Agra to meet with local printers and discuss their challenges. "We asked the printers to participate in the International Conference in Ayodhya," said Chopra.

However, Chopra said he observed that despite many printers present for the meet, there is a lack of enthusiasm for the latest developments. "Printers often work in close competition with one another due to misunderstandings and the absence of a unified association."

Further, misconceptions about GST rates led to a detailed discussion on GST and the challenges faced in maintaining the industry. "Through persistent efforts by the OPA delegation, the printers of Agra expressed a strong interest in forming an association."