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Brisk business at pre-Bihu fair

A stall at the fair in Guwahati. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, March 19: Local entrepreneur Hemanta Saikia did good business this afternoon as his gooseberry and wild apple squash bottles sold thick and fast at a trade fair in Chandmari.

“I am happy that the response so far has been very good with processed fruit products topping the demand list. Sales have far exceeded what I had expected, thanks to a dry spell over the past few days,” he said.

Saikia was among the 64 local participants at Bordoichila, a pre-Rongali Bihu trade fair organised at the AEI playground here since March 12 by Guwahati-based NGO Will N Work, comprising a group of women.

Over the past week, the participants comprising self-help groups, entrepreneurs and weavers among others have generated business worth over Rs 85 lakh.

As many as 128 stalls with participants from across the Northeast are being accommodated at the 12-day fair.

Formed in 2003, Will N Work has over the decade empowered over 1,000 women artisans, a majority of them from the rural areas, with product know-how through training sessions conducted in association with the state handicrafts department.

“We have achieved our objective of providing the indigenous artisans and weavers direct access to the market. What is satisfying is that the fair has empowered them with a bargaining power that remains elusive when they sell from source. In other words, they have a fair measure of the market price and hence are better placed when it comes to estimating their profit margins,” the NGO’s chairperson, Nitali Das, said today.

The prime location of the trade fair venue is attracting a good number of visitors, particularly after dusk.

“The footfalls have been better than expected. As of today, an average of 8,000 people are showing up every day and we estimate there will be more during the weekend,” Das said.

The participants have found succour in the fair after the closure of NEDFi Haat last year. “It is a welcome relief as we had become used to the pre-Rongali Bihu fairs at NEDFi Haat in Ambari. Here, we also have had the benefit of a bigger stall. The sales have been relatively better as well,” said entrepreneur Aradhana Boro, who designs attire purchased from weavers across the state.

The organising committee has decided to hold a cooking competition on Friday and a painting contest among children on Saturday.

“We have endeavoured to create a mini Disneyland at the venue for children to explore once their guardians are done with shopping,” Das said.