Funding helps them upgrade skills

From making plain white cotton dhotis to developing organic cotton shirting material, the weavers of Esalam cluster near Villupuram district have come a long way in the last two years.

The group of around 400 weavers were motivated to make changes under the Integrated Handloom Development Scheme, launched by the Central government three years ago.

The weavers received funding to develop their looms, upgrade their skills and develop their capacity. Now, they make handkerchiefs and shirts, besides dhotis. Similarly, a cluster in Vijayawada manufactures vegetable-dyed bedspreads. Another in Thirumalpur near Kancheepuram makes cotton and silk saris.

An exhibition of handloom products by weaver clusters from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh got under way at C.P. Art Centre, Alwarpet, recently. Participating in its inauguration, Handlooms Secretary R. Rajagopal said the clusters, each with around 300 to 500 weavers, had organised the exhibition to gain consumer feedback on price range, colour and choice. “These clusters are in the second year of the three-year Central government funded scheme,” Mr. Rajagopal said. “Earlier, the weavers had no idea of what the consumer wanted. The cluster scheme helps to improve productivity as the weavers can directly interact with consumers,” he added.

Under the three-year scheme, implemented by agencies such as the State Handloom Department, Handloom Corporation, Apex Society, Weavers' Service Centre and non-governmental organisations, the clusters receive Rs.60 lakh as fund to develop their units.

The Central government provided 70 per cent, the State government 20 per cent and the weavers 10 per cent towards the cost of the project.

Keywords: Esalam clusterweavers

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