Woven baskets, mats and hats constitute a small but important part of handicraft textiles. Basketry is one of the oldest and universally practiced art forms to produce useful and artistically beautiful objects. Artisans have preserved their traditional skills over many generations to produce elegant yet strong woven baskets for both functional and decorative use. Baskets are part of the heritage of almost all ancient civilisations and their construction and variety make them desirable decorative home textiles.
The Indian home textile market of Rs.17,000 cr in 2010 is expected to grow at CAGR 9 % and reach Rs.40,000 cr by 2020. The unorganised sector dominates this market. Home textiles have now transformed into life style items from being just a utilitarian products and their demand is increasing day by day. The handicraft sector plays a significant role in the home textile products and the country's economy. It provides employment to a vast segment of craftsman in rural and semi urban areas and generates substantial foreign exchange, while preserving its cultural heritage.
Traditionally artisans have used natural and locally available material for making such article; usually the fibres are extracted from stems or leaves of plant and are dyed with natural coloring components which are then hand woven to make artistic but useful objects.
Elephant Grass is one of such abundantly available natural material which derives its name from being a favorite food and hiding place for elephants. It is also known as Napier grass and scientifically termed as Pennisetum purpureum, a species of tropical African grasslands which is also found in many parts of Australia, America and Asia.
It has low water and nutrient requirements and therefore can make use of otherwise uncultivated lands. It grows up to 10 feet tall bamboo-like clumps and has yellowish green to purple color. This grass has high biomass production of about 40 tons/ha/year and can be harvested 4 to 6 times a year. The specific advantages of this grass are
Environmentally friendly renewable source
Easy to grow having long life span
Low maintenance cost
Does not need pesticides or fertilisers