IMG_3653By Sibdas Kundu

Baripada, 17th June, 2016(OdishaLIVE Bureau):  A value addition initiative to Sabai grass, a natural fibre, which is abundantly grown in the tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district, has started paying dividends.

The tribal women who were once hardly earning Rs 30- Rs 45 per day by making traditional ropes now are able to earn up to Rs 200- Rs 300.

The use of the grass, locally known ‘Bobei Ghasa’, was earlier confined to mainly making rope. However, now shaped into crafts, after the women workers have developed as artisans with capacity building trainings.

The crafts, mainly house hold articles, not only find market in the district and state too but also marked their presence and popularity in the national level markets.

Being environment friendly products, the crafts have gained immense popularity nationally.

The district administration is not only showcasing and selling the products of its artisans, in a showroom in Baripada but also made arrangement to sell them through online marketing channels e.g. Flipkart, Jabong, and Amazon etc.

Although initiative for promotion of Sabai-Grass Industry was undertaken by the Orissa Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) about 10 years ago yet much tangible progress was not noticed till 2012. With the persuasion of the District Collector, the grass has seen an upward mobility.

The district collector of Mayurbhanj, Rajesh Prabhakar Patil, said, “Sabai grass is found growing naturally, abundantly across the district but mainly in 6 blocks. The grass was mainly used for making ropes. With the new initiatives and adopting multi-prong approaches the women workers turning up as artisans now find an up-liftment in their status.”

“Not only these women are empowered financially and socially with group activities also their products are gaining high acclimations from far and wide. The next target is to encourage local tribals to grow the grass in barren and waste lands with MGNREGA scheme intervention,” he said.

After identifying   women involved in the Sabai activity clusters were formed  then  the  producer groups by ORMAS with financial support under Odisha Livelihoods Mission. Currently, 9 producer groups are promoted in the district having 382 members.

The grass industry has given the women community an economic freedom with an additional income.

“While we were struggling to earn Rs 30 after toiling the whole day now we are able to earn Rs 200- Rs 300 in a day by making craft,” said Kalpana Jena, an artisan of Suliapada block and Usha Murmu of Guhaladihi .

The Sabai grass is mainly witnessed in the revenue sub-division of Baripada and Kaptipada of Mayurbhanj.

The harvest months are November and June. The annual production of the district is estimated about 20,000 MT and total volume of the market is about Rs 300 crore. The district Administration is going to engage National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmadabad for Design Development Training.  They will train the artisan with new designs.

Besides, the State Institute for Development of Arts and Crafts(SIDAC) has engaged a designer from West Bengal who will train 30 artisans to develop 20 new designs and the course schedule begins from 11th June.

“A production unit has been established at Guhaladihi of Baripada Block with the financial support from Horticulture Mission.  14 looms (10 at Guhaladihi and 04 at Badsole) have  been provided with other machineries e.g. warping machine, charkha etc. with a support from ORMAS and the  materials bank is  established at Guhaldihi,” said Keshaw Jha, the chief executive , district supply and marketing society.

“National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Bhubaneswar has been engaged for product designing and its promotion in fashion world. In a ramp show there last year in December the ladies decorative articles were showcased,” he said.

Marketing tie-up has been made by ORMAS with the National level organization e.g. Fab India, Utkalika for round the year marketing of their products.

“Besides the above, tie up has been made with Forest Department, Mayurbhanj, to sell Sabai products to the tourists coming to the district to visit Simlipal sanctuary,” said Jha. The producer groups involved in this activity are participating almost in all the district level as well as State level exhibitions organized by different organizations in the State.

Apart from participation in the exhibitions organized in the State, they have also been promoted for participation in National level exhibition at New Delhi, TATA etc.

A handicraft showroom in the name of “Mayur Shilpa” is established by the district administration, at Baripada to centralize the products and market those through different channels. The showroom is self- managed by the community organization (producer groups) involved in Sabai Activity, a marketing manager is appointed by them to manage the entire business operation.

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