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Industry meets art in Jorhat for larger market

- 7-day fair by District Industries and Commerce Centre aims to help local entrepreneurs grow

Jorhat, Dec. 25: Food, fashion, handicrafts and utility items jostled for space under one roof as industry met art and craft, all locally produced in the district, here today.

On display were eri and muga mekhela sadors, exquisite ornaments and flowers crafted from handmade paper, cane, export quality bamboo lamp shades, biscuits, pickles, wall putty, batteries, inter-locking paved blocks and many other things.

But this is no trade fair. It’s an industries exhibition organised by the District Industries and Commerce Centre (DICC) on the Bisturam Barooah hall premises here.

The seven-day exhibition, which began today, aims to create market linkage so that enterprise can flourish in a scenario that has hitherto been predominantly agricultural. With better exposure it also hopes to help the entrepreneurs fulfil their requirements like raw material and machinery.

N.K. Talukdar, the general manager of the centre, said the exhibition-cum-sale of articles would enable entrepreneurs, who are struggling to create a niche for themselves in the market, to come in contact with buyers.

“Raw materials like jute, silk yarn, fruits, cane and bamboo abound in our state but what our entrepreneurs usually lack is quality, say good finishing, which prevents them from getting a big market. The exposure will help them display their talent and understand what more is required to take them further,” Talukdar said.

The intricately woven bamboo lamp shades have found a market in Japan and have decorated five-star hotels in our country’s capital but entrepreneur Parikshit Borkotoky is constantly reinventing his products to create variety and be in competition. He has gone online with his brand Kraftinn and is now also selling his products on eBay, shopo and craftsvilla but to go largescale he needs machinery so that he can work faster and fulfil larger orders. Indukalpa Bharali from Majuli, who produces Bhimvita, a calcium and iron-rich powdered mixture, cannot produce it on a largescale because of dearth of the raw material bhim kol (a seeded banana variety) on which this nutritious food is based.

Again, several entrepreneurs do not get enough returns for their products though these have a huge market outside the state. Eco-friendly products made from cane, jute and hand-made paper have markets in Mumbai and Bangalore but the craftsmen are often exploited by middlemen. In the state, the market is small.

Sexagenarian Mohendra Mohan Barik of Titabar, who has won innumerable awards for his ornaments, sandals and miniature sarais made from cane, said he has a huge market in Mumbai and has heard that his products are also exported. Holding up a pair of sandals, he said he sells them for Rs 800 in the state whereas in Mumbai it sells for Rs 1,600 or more.

“People in the metros are eager to buy these sandals because they are made of eco-friendly material like cane. I have heard that my sandals are exported abroad but do not know what the market price is,” he said.

Sumit Ganguly, extension manger of DICC, said it was to prevent such exploitation by middlemen that the centre aimed to give the entrepreneurs, who painstakingly craft each and every item, a direct market.

The mushrooms, which were being sold at the North East Small Scale Industries Association stall along with other items, got sold in the first hour itself.


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