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Tech aid for Bihu must-have

- Rain Forest Research Institute imparts training for kakoi production

Jorhat, March 21: Technology has come to the aid of a group of artisans, with the Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI) imparting training to bulk produce kakoi, a customary bamboo comb worn in the hair by Bihu dancers.

The institute, on the outskirts of this town at Sotai, is one-of-its-kind in the Northeast under the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education — an autonomous body under the Union ministry of forests and environment.

Senior scientist and in-charge of Bamboo Composite Centre (BCC) of the RFRI, Tilak Chandra Bhuyan, told The Telegraph today that a group of 15 people, including three women, had been offered use of the machines at BCC to make bamboo items of their choice, with many preferring to make kakoi. These persons are involved in preparing bamboo handicraft at home.

He said the group has been imparted hands-on training by a master artisan to prepare a variety of bamboo handicraft items. These include chairs, sofas, trays, racks, small decorative pieces, which they are unfamiliar with.

Bhuyan said kakoi, which is traditionally manufactured in village households on the eve of Bohag Bihu, as it is part of a Bihu dancer’s dress and also worn by other women during the festival, was being produced in large quantities in lesser time with the help of the machines.

The BCC in-charge said cutting, splitting and smoothening of bamboo by machine saves the artisans time. With Bohag Bihu to be celebrated next month, the group is making kakoi in large numbers and was supplying to its contacts to be sold in the market, he added.

Bhuyan said the group, comprising youths and homemakers, has been offered the use of the BCB machines free of cost. They are also being trained as part of the RFRI’s attempt to promote and popularise use of bamboo products in the region, which has huge bamboo reserves.

“We want to develop entrepreneurship among the youths by taking up self-employment schemes to produce and sell bamboo products, which have a great demand in the market across the country and abroad,” RFRI director N.S. Bisht said.

The group, with members from Jorhat and Dibrugarh districts, was being offered the BCC facility and training for the last one week and it would be extended if required, Bisht said.

“We are providing accommodation to outstation trainees and could extend the training programme for another 10 days and allow the use of machinery to prepare their products for Bihu sale,” the director said.

Kabita Rajkhowa, one of the group members, said use of machines was boosting their production. In the past week, they have produced over 100 such combs.

Hemalata Bora, another woman trainee, said the manual process was very laborious and lengthy. She hoped the institute would help them establish contacts with banks so that they could form a self-help group and get loans to acquire machines to increase production of bamboo handicraft items.


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