Crisis looms over Chendamangalam weavers

A file photo of weavers handling freshly woven fabric to meet the government order for school uniform at a weaving unit at Chendamangalam. Weavers say an extension of the government scheme will revive their fortunes too.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

A serious shortage of yarn and dyes and plummeting sales have pushed the popular Chendamangalam handloom weavers’ cooperative societies in Ernakulam district and around a thousand weavers into a serious financial crisis, which now threatens to end up in the closure of at least a few cooperatives.

The biggest problem now is the short supply of yarn and the inability of the cooperatives to sell old stock, said T.S. Baby, a member of the State Handloom Council. Ajithkumar Gothuruth, secretary of Karimpadam Cooperative Weavers’ Society in Chendamangalam, said a long-term crisis was brewing because new weavers were not entering the field because of the troubles in the sector.

Mr. Ajithkumar said the crisis has been worsened by the shifting of the regional office of National Handloom Development Council (NHDC) office from Kannur to Bengaluru. The NHDC supplies yarn and dyes to the cooperatives, which enjoy government support, but cannot buy these raw materials directly.

20% to 30% rise

While there is about 20 to 30% rise in the price of yarn, dyes are in short supply. The price of yarn has crossed ₹2,000 a kg and the subsidy being provided by the government is not sufficient to help the weavers.

The Chendamangalam brand of handloom products have GI registration. The products from these weaving centres include dhotis, double dhotis, bedsheets, and shirting materials. The cost of the materials is high and a double dhoti, measuring about four metres, now cost around ₹1,500 a piece. There are not many weavers who can produce these fine materials now, said Mr. Ajithkumar.

GST goes up too

In the midst of the crisis, the GST rate on handloom products is being raised to 12% from 5%. This will affect the sales in the near future, weavers’ representatives said.

A major initiative that had supported the handloom sector was the free uniform distribution for students in government schools. Students in classes between one and seven were being provided with handwoven uniform materials. The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the distribution system. “If uniforms can be distributed to students between Classes 1 and 10, the weavers’ cooperatives may see a revival of fortunes,” Mr. Baby added. Around one lakh metres of uniform materials have been woven in the district.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 2:47:13 AM |

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