SHILLONG, Sept 18: This festive season flaunt yourself wearing a Meghalaya cotton Saree or a Meghalaya cotton Lehenga choli.
Surprised? Don’t be, for what you heard is true. Different companies have fashioned apparels out of Meghalaya cotton and these beautiful garments are on sale throughout India and abroad.
Very few people know that Meghalaya is a cotton producing State, albeit the yield is less. But nonetheless, cotton is traditionally grown in Garo Hills and is spun into different fabric in the State and the country.
According to the Meghalaya agriculture department “Cotton, Jute and Mesta are the important fibre crops grown in the State. These crops have been the traditional cash crops of Garo Hills.”
Cotton has the highest area under cultivation, of over 7000 hectare, and is grown exclusively in the Garo Hills districts. The cotton grown in Garo Hills is also known as Comilla cotton because historically cotton trade flourished from the hills of Garo Hills through the markets of Comilla district of Bangladesh.
This international trade may have stopped, but sale of cotton from Garo Hills is on the rise with a shortage of cotton throughout India. Garo Hills cotton is finding excellent markets and these are being produced into Sarees and other garments for women like Salwar Suits, lehenga Choli and others.
The Garo Hills cotton is of the “D. 46-2-1 variety belonging to the Gossypium arboretum” and has a good market as short staple cotton. Such types of cotton are also used for mixing with wool. The other varieties produced are Gossypium Hirsutum, Gossypium Barbadense, and Gossypium Harbaceum.
In a free publicity of sorts, a company selling women’s garments states that “Meghalaya is one of the best producers of cotton fibre. Meghalaya cotton is known for its softness and durability. Fabric lends itself beautifully to printing. Vegetable or eco friendly dyes are used to color the fabric.”
The company based in South India says that it sells “pure Meghalaya handloom cotton Saree, Meghalaya cotton printed Saree and fancy Meghalaya Saree for regular use, home makers and busy mothers,” to people across India and in International destinations such as United States, UK, Middle East and different parts of India.
Sadly, however, the agriculture department has not been able to generate similar interest amongst the people through publicity like the private players for one of its cash crops that may be able to bring about further socio-economic changes to the cultivators in the State.