SHILLONG, April 17: Safeguarding and exhibiting the rich cultural identity and heritage, eco-friendly practices and in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious project ‘Make In India,’ are the sericulture weavers of Meghalaya who have come a long way in perfecting their art and designs.
Sericulture and Weaving in Meghalaya are the two most important cottage based, eco-friendly industries in the rural areas. These twin industries portray the cultural ethos and rich heritage of the people of the State. In the absence of a textile industry, Sericulture and Weaving plays an important role for the production of Silk fabrics and hand woven fabrics of ethnic designs.
There are 12 seed farms, 6 for mulberry, 3 for Eri and 2 for Muga. There are 9 nurseries to rear planting materials in different Districts. There are two training institutes located at Ummulong (Sericulture) and Mendipathar (Weaving) which are meant foe imparting various courses of training and also issue of certificates.
It may be recalled that Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani along with Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma, had inaugurated Meghalaya’s first state-of-the-art apparel and garment making centre at Ampati. The Rs 14.26-crore project was commissioned under the North East Region Textiles Promotion Scheme, (NERTPS)
The Union Minister said her ministry is pumping Rs 70 crore into sericulture and weaving sector and has already sanctioned Rs 32 crore of the proposed Rs 53 crore for promotion of handlooms. One such village is Mawlong village in Ri-Bhoi District under the NERTPS and is growing slowly perfecting their skills.
Weaving Inspector, A Khonglam said that under the NERTP schemes a survey was made Mawlong area was found to be feasible as most of the villagers in Mawlong are silk rearers and the area had a large number of weavers weaving their own yarns and converting them into fabrics in a traditional way and method.
“Under the scheme we should not have less than 300 weavers in one area, but due to the terrain and population the centre has consider and we have over 60 members now,” Khonglam further informed.
“The intention of the of the scheme is to gather the people and form a cluster and a cooporative and register them so that they can work together and produce their product in uniformity and meet the market demands of the products,” said Khonglam further informing that a lot of technical thing however needs to be improved for which the department has taken up the cluster development executive from the district handloom office- Nongpoh.
“They are in-touch with this area to take up the matter so that the scheme will continue till they reached the stage of marketing the fabrics,” he added.
Local villager and a beneficiary of the scheme, also a member of Mawlong United Committee, Lianda Myrdong said that the scheme has helped improved their expertise and how eco-friendly the products are.
“We dye the fabrics using natural resources available like ginger, black rock, turmeric, radish leaves besides few other leaves,” said Myrdong.
Elaborating more Myrdong said that the grinded mixture is soaked together with the fabric and boiled and later drained and dried.
“For one kilogram of thread twenty litre of water is required to boil with the ingredient,” she added.
Earlier, the Union Textiles Minister had praised the quality of dyes in the North East in general and Meghalaya in particular and urged local weavers to register with the India Handloom Board, “which will connect them directly with multinational companies”.
It was also reported that a German Association for International Collaboration (Giz) has tied up with a Leipzig-based firm, Seidentraum, to create a market in Europe for eri silk from weavers in Meghalaya. Under the climate-change adaptation project of Giz, supported by the government of Meghalaya, Seidentraum will procure silk from the weavers to make high-end fabrics, including baby products, initially for the German market.