Dhirendra Kumar (left) with Arun Namdeo Kale in Ranchi on Monday.
Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Jan. 24: For Naxalite-hit pockets of the state, warmth is coming from an unexpected source.
Around 10,000 blanket weavers of Palamau, Latehar and other rebel hubs, reeling under economic devastation brought on by Naxalism in the area, can rejoice as they can now sell their products anywhere across India. A Maharashtra-based enterprise inked an MoU with Jharcraft to this effect today.
According to the agreement, Jharcraft — that boasts 1.5lakh artisans involved in traditional weaving and spinning — will produce diversified woollen materials while Solapur Zilha Ahilyadevi Khadi Gramodyog Ghongadi Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Limited will market it across the country.
Elaborating on the details, Jharcraft managing director Dhirendra Kumar said: “Places like Palamau, Latehar, Garhwa, among others, have a rich pool of traditional wool weavers. But they suffered due to lack of marketing avenues and demand in the state. Naturally, many weavers started migrating to other states and the traditional form of blanket weaving in this part of the country faded.”
Now, thanks to the initiative, weavers in these rebel hubs will be able to earn Rs 6,000 upwards.
Chairman of the Maharashtra firm Arun Namdeo spoke about the synergy of the deal. “We have been pioneers in selling woollen products to government entities like the army, hospitals, among others. But we didn’t have enough goods to market due to lack of produce,” he said.
What makes the agreement win-win for both is that Jharkhand has a rich talent pool while Maharashtra has a strong market. “Maharashtra is one of the greatest producers of wool, but doesn’t have many capable weavers. Jharkhand has the greatest pool of weavers. According to the agreement, we will market the items and also help in bringing wool from Maharashtra. This will create employment in both states,” said Namdeo.
For Jharcraft, too, the deal is special. Though the state outfit — one of the few to have consistently been in the news for the right reasons — had been working with wool weavers, projects did not kick off due to market constraints.
“Four months ago, chief minister Arjun Munda asked us to create marketing models for weavers. Finally, our efforts have borne fruit,” Kumar said, adding they would focus on training weavers to create diversified woollen products.
As any MBA worth his degree would say, a diversified product basket makes more sense.
“Which is why we have been asking weavers to make mufflers, shawls, caps, besides blankets, so they can tap a bigger market,” said Kumar.