Gadag handloom cluster transforming with changing times
Gadag cluster is a famous cotton trading centre for Jayadhar variety of cotton. It has also occupied a significant place in the handloom industry of Karnataka. There are about 3,600 active working handlooms in the cluster. A round 10,000 people are depending in this industry for their livelihood. The cluster is also very much popular for its traditional product called "Gaadi Dhadi" saris .
History of the Gadag handloom cluster shows the rise and fall of products and goods manufactured in the past years. Even the products manufactured here have been changed from ordinary cotton saris to mercerized cotton saris and high quality of silk saris. Today more than 50% of the production is only of cotton saris. Though the profit margin is meager in cotton saris, but it enjoys better demand compared to silk saris.
These "Gaadi dhadi" traditional saris are largely worn by women of north Karnataka and some parts of Masharastra. These people prefer these saris for almost all their cultural and traditional functions because of its combination of harmonious colours, quality and richness.
The core cluster actors are small weavers, weavers who are job workers, businessmen weavers, and small handloom production units, KHDC Ltd and the Handloom cooperative societies. Apart from weavers, skilled designers are also available in the cluster. The local designer needs adequate training for the up-gradation of design development to meet the present market needs.
Majority of the handlooms in the cluster are working under the patronage of the KHDC. The handloom weavers who work for KHDC produce furnishing fabrics, terry towels, bedsheets, suiting, shirtings, floor coverings, tablemats, etc. The other weavers in the cluster limit themselves to producing silk, silk blends and cotton traditional saris.
Almost all the weavers in the cluster are depending on job work. The weaver working under KHDC will get raw materials from KHDC and they after weaving the materials hand it back to the KHDC. The weavers, who get the raw materials from cooperative societies, produce for the respective cooperative societies.
The weavers under the master weavers to their master weavers, the weavers of khadi board to their respective khadi board. These weavers are paid the conversion charges on piece rate basis. Only the small weavers do their business on their own. The KHDC and Khadi Board market their products through their chain of sales outlet and directly to different govt institutions. The cooperatives and the small manufacturer weavers will supply their goods to local retailers and wholesalers.
The small weavers sell their products in the local market directly to the consumer or to the local trader. It has been observed in the value-chain analysis that the local traders enjoy greater margin than the others. But after proper intervention for cost reduction in inputs through bulk purchase, improved processing methods, upgrading designs and introduction of direct selling mechanism, instead of the trader, this has helped increase the earnings and margins of the weavers.