Bid to take forward Assam's ancient tradition of Eri
GUWAHATI: Hand spinning is a dying tradition, a fading cultural practice, especially among the younger generation. The hand spun yarn is not just an intrinsic part of Assam's tradition but also a critical part of the livelihood of many engaged in this art. Since it has now become a rare practice because of the onslaught of modern textiles, the price of the region's famous Eri silk has been on a continual rise. To preserve the legacy of this art form, Indian Weavers Alliance Silk Farmer Producer Company Limited (IWASFPCL) has launched an initiative 'Polash' that promises to be a game changer for the hand spun yarn segment.
Polash has registered many people engaged in hand spinning and has developed a strategic road map for the uplift of the entire sector. After prolonged research coupled with a deep understanding of the sector, the bottlenecks hindering growth of the segment were identified. The primary reason being the segment is unorganized.
"IWASFPCL is privileged to have been able to start the process of creating a common facility centre at Borihat, Polashbari, Kamrup, Assam. The facility, spread across 8000 sq.ft., is planned to stock over 300 to 500 kg of grade one cocoons. However, the best part is that the myriad spinning artisans have been made dividend holders who are going to be directly connected to the profits," said Saumar Sharma, acting CEO, IWASFPCL.
The FPC is expected to enable the sale of around 60 per cent of the cocoon to spinning mills and the rest 30 per cent are proposed to be distributed among registered artisans. Sharma informed that the cocoons would be provisioned free; all they have to do is to produce the yarn and sell it back to their own IWASFPCL.
"The producers will have the leverage to sell it in the ready market place, i.e, the CFC of the IWASFPCL, next door within a radius of 5 km. The spinning price of these yarns is more than what is being offered in the market. In other words, the income of the various grassroots stakeholders is likely to be supplemented," Sharma further added.
The Polash initiative is planning for the yarns to be processed, polished and packed into different weight packaging and would offer both chemical and natural dye color palette under the brand name 'Polash'. This would create a visible brand for domestic and international buyers. The profit earned from all the activities of the IWASFPCL is planned to be linked to all dividend holders, i.e spinners or farmers, which is again an additional income for them over and above the yarn spinning income. So, the CFC is leverage for all shareholders.
Till date over 10 farmer interest groups of 20 people each have been formed and cocoon is already being distributed in these groups. Soon, government-approved motorized spin wheels for spinning the yarn would be given to them, which will again help them in speeding up the overall process.
"There are big plans for expanding the market and strengthening linkages and visibility of the product. We have slowly started specialized packaging with differentiated branding, for instance woollen balls, in different shapes and designs. We have 'Polash Hobby Kits' such as crochet kits, hand knitting kits, and embroidery kits with yarns and guidelines. The packaging is under the brand named 'POLASH: Aalful Hator Poros'," said Sharma.
IWASFPCL is also taking an innovative step for cocoon collection. They plan to set up cocoon collection centres, essentially like an ATM, wherein a local person would be employed for encouraging the community to come with their cocoons to the centre and sell them. "Once we set up the collection centre in villages, people will automatically produce more cocoons, knowing that there is a market available on regular basis. This social model will create the cycle of production, distribution, and demand. Eventually, Polash can show the scaling done sustainably," Sharma added.