SHILLONG, Aug 10: Taking note that the sector has provided a lot of livelihood opportunities in the state, the Meghalaya State Planning Board (MSPB) has recommended that the state government increases the annual budget allocation for the sericulture and weaving sector.
“We felt that more allocation to the sericulture and weaving sector is needed as it has created a lot of livelihood opportunities to the people of the state,” MSPB co-chairman John F Kharshiing said after a meeting of its ninth working group chaired by former Dy CM Rowel Lyngdoh here.
However, the Board before finalizing its proposal on this regard has asked the department of sericulture and weaving to conduct a census which will provide a proper data on the population of weavers, their activities and annual turnover.
Kharshiing said that at present a total of over 38,900 weavers are registered which of these only 400 are categorized as dedicated weavers of the department while the rest are private individuals (taking up weaving activities) whose annual turnover is not known.
According to him, the turn over generated from only the sale of weaving products produced by the 400 odd dedicated weavers was at Rs 45 lakh last year, which has increased from Rs 38 lakh in the previous years.
He however said officials of the department had indicated that the annual turn over by the 38, 000 private weavers (who each generated on an average around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 in a year) is expected to be around Rs 38 crore.
“Therefore once the census is completed, the department will be able to know the exact turn over,” Kharshiing added.
Kharshiing said that during the year 2015-16, the allocation for sericulture sector was at Rs 2.52 crore and the same was reduced to only Rs 2.39 crore this year.
He also pointed out that the amount for income generation programme for weavers was earlier sanctioned at Rs 9.17 crore and this year, the same was dropped to Rs 5 crore, while citing that the reason could be due to present financial constraint arising out of the NGT ban on coal mining in the state.
Of the 38,000 weavers in Meghalaya, 21,000 are engaged in Eri activity, 6,200 in Muga and 11,700 in mulberry. Most of these weavers are from Garo Hills region and Ri Bhoi District in Khasi Hills region.
The meeting was to review the state plan schemes under the sericulture and weaving department during the period of three years from 2014 till this year.
Stating that total area covered under the activity is around 23,000 acres, he said of the target set for Eri sector, 70 acres plantation along with setting up of 170 rearing houses was achieved, 44 acres plantation in Muga and 50 acres plantation along with 34 rearing houses in Mulberry.
He also said that in the production of handloom, 26,000 sq meters of cloth was produced in 2014-15 and 26,400 sq meters of cloth in 2015-16 adding now they have set a target to increase the production to 28,000 sq meters of cloth.
In a bid to further linked the activity with tourism sector to add value to the products produced by the weavers in the state, Kharshiing said that the Board has decided to have a separate meeting with the department to see that the products are showcased and connected with tourism.
While majority of the weavers are comprises of women folks, he said it was also informed that the benefits of the Megha Health Insurance Scheme of the government be extended to all the weavers in the state as the earlier health insurance from the department was only at Rs 25 lakh.
Meanwhile, Kharshiing also informed that the government is also coming up with three Apparel and Garment centres in Ampati (South West Garo Hills), Tura (West Garo Hills) and Ri Bhoi District besides setting up of Mini Yarn Bank in Shillong (East Khasi Hills) and Tura at Rs 25.11 lakh each.