Introduction

Integrated Handloom Cluster Development Programme (IHCDP) is a nice endeavor to encourage growth of handloom weavers into an organized and gung-ho component and capacity escalation to face competition, be it local, national or International. Clusters program has been inaugurated in the country to meet the challenge of diversification, growth and creating a banging presence in the markets. IIE (Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship) is one of the established organizations for the development of SMEs. It is the executing and nodal bureau for the Imphal Cluster. The Cluster was officially launched on 30th May 2006 and started its operations from the month of September of the same year.

The Cluster Development Executive (CDE) initiated the process of studying the region, the trends, the labor availability and the techniques used earlier. This study threw light on the discrepancies of the process and it was found that one of the major problems is the archaic dyeing techniques. Dyeing was done mostly by the individuals. This hampered the productivity since their number was quite less. Further, the buyers were also not much convinced by the colour fastness of the products in spite of the genuine efforts of the weavers and craftsmen. Thus, it was realized that there was a sheer need for training in Dyeing to the weavers and dyers. There was much affinity of the dyes and other chemical stuff to impart training even, so it was brought from Assam.

Fibre2fashion.com had a knowledge sharing discussion with Mr. Md. Anwar Hussain, the Cluster Development Executive (CDE) of Imphal Cluster. He was filled with immense gratitude towards the Government of India for its initiative towards the upliftment of the region and society as a whole. The central government is helpful and courteous to provide manpower, training programmes, experts, consortiums and support in advisory form. The state government helps in identification among the people and procurement of land for Common Facility Centre (CFC).

Functionalities of the cluster

Keeping in view, the need for some developments, dyeing workshops were made on which both vegetable dyeing and chemical dyeing were carried out with the help of experts. They used to be knowledge providers for dyeing techniques. The dyers and weavers were taken for exposure tours to provide them with an opportunity to learn new dyeing techniques. The productivity was increased slowly and gradually. Soon the cluster started to re-breathe, the weavers and dyers started gaining and problems related to colour fastness, quality and diversity in colours were met.

Within the period of two years the cluster became a hot cake and there went a steep rise in the standard of living of the weavers. They finally started to lead a much better life. They have now, the time, the reasons and the modes of enjoyment in their life and the only thing that has turned their life towards a better alley is the intervention Scheme by IIE. There is a pleasant observation in the Imphal cluster that it is highly characterized by women. Women of this region are quite active in this industry and it's a matter of compulsion for the ladies to involve themselves to be on the charts as talented and a good marriage material. Along with keeping themselves involved in the day to day responsibilities of the house, they are very much engaged in handloom activities. The women are involved in weaving, dyeing, bleaching and also dealing of end items and yarn.

The handloom industry has been playing a very important role in the economy of Manipur since long time. The major income is generated from Handloom activities. The traditional skill of handloom weaving is not only a matter of status symbol of the women folk in the state, but also is a crucial characteristic of their socio-economic life and is considered as the most vital and major small scale industry in the state. Weaving industry is the biggest employer of the state especially to the craftswomen.

Mr. Md. Anwar Hussain told us about the facilities provided to the weavers. He said that there are two components of the facilities, i.e., Hard and Soft. Soft component includes capacity building which involves Self Help Group (SHG) formation, making the weavers the members of the consortiums, training programme, Dyeing Houses for vegetable and chemical dyes, Market intervention in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc., exposure to different clusters like Burdwan Cluster. There is also allied help like Health Insurance. The Hard component includes opening of Yarn Bank. They recently received ` 5 lacs from the Government, selling the raw materials at Mill Gate prices, i.e. 15% discount, installation of machineries, special purpose vehicle by putting ` 7 lacs. Total expenditure on the cluster amounts to ` 34 lacs.


Product Assortment


There is production of a variety of designs with different types of motifs, creative and striking blends of splashes. There has been a development of sixty two new designs which have added new to the Manipuri textiles. Currently, there are diverse varieties of Cotton, Muga, Tassar, and Eri yarn that are available in the Yarn Bank at very low and nominal prices offering a competitive quality unlike the local markets. The weavers are now satisfied due to the construction of Yarn bank.

 

Highlights of the brighter side


  • Contribution in various trade fairs, exhibitions, buyer seller meets.
  • Guidance on product specification
  • Quality testing
  • Aptitude for market trend
  • Focus towards the products having good market acclaim
  • Sizes and designs of products are altered and varied uses are made possible to accomplish the requirements of different market fragments.
  • Cutting short the product range for better focus
  • The social network of the cluster is strengthened through various buyer seller meets, exhibitions, cluster visit, awareness programme and International Exposures with the hard work of the members
  • There is a product gallery displaying products worth ` 50000 for the promotion of the products of the cluster.
  • Yarn banks have lowered the cost of production.
  • Rising demand of the products has led sharp increase in the remuneration.

Throwing light on the developments of the cluster, Mr. Md. Anwar Hussain told that the Dyeing Section (Loom preparatory) has developed a capacity of 50 kilograms/ day. There is testing and marketing, colour fastness, Yarn strength tester, Display rooms for marketing, BIC (Business Information Centre), E-Marketing, Meeting Hall cum office for weavers and weavers and weavers and buyers.


Conclusion


Communicating about the satisfaction level of the weavers, Md. Hussain says, "I am fully confident and extremely positive about the initiative since there has been development and innovation to a great extent and weavers have also got a loan of ` 54 lacs for working capital and purchase of raw materials".


The cluster Intervention has made the cluster a glare of publicity that delivers new designs and patterns for daily habitat and along with that it also reveals the individual's guise towards style. Imphal Cluster surely provides numerous varieties of magnificent arts budding from cultural and fashionable products like sarees, blouses, dress materials, home fabrics and furnishings. It's definitely a home for people who love to possess quality products.


Reference


www.indianhandloomscluster-dchl.net/