Handlooms sector in Khurda district of Odisha, which was facing a crisis due to weak demand for cotton lungis and towels for last few years, has received a new lease of life with the production of linen and mercerised cotton fabrics.
The department of textiles and handlooms is now creating awareness among local weavers to produce linen and mercerised cotton fabrics to meet the high demand and get better remuneration.
Khurda weavers had carved a niche for themselves in the cotton garments sector of the state in the post-independence era. Cotton lungis, sarees and towels produced by local weavers were the most sought-after garments for people across the state in the 70s and 80s.
The garments even had a good market in states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
However, mass production of cotton garments in textile mills at Coimbatore, Surat and Mumbai had dealt a death blow to Khurdaâ€™s handlooms sector in the 90s. Better quality and low price of machine-made clothes had virtually wiped out handloom products of local weavers.
The textiles department has recently introduced production of linen and mercerised cotton fabrics in Bolgarh and Jatni areas. The regional textile department office is now offering linen and mercerised cotton threads at low prices, new looms, training facility and bank loans to entice weavers to produce new varieties of fabrics.
The textile department is also importing linen threads from Kolkata and mercerised cotton threads from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu to meet the demand. â€œWeavers can earn better income by weaving linen and mercerised cotton fabrics. A weaver can produce at least four metres of linen or mercerised cotton fabric in a day and get a remuneration of `400,â€ said regional textile official.
The textile department has proposed to offer raw materials to weavers and collect finished products from them for marking through its nodal agency Bayanika. â€œWeavers affiliated to Nilakantheswar handlooms cooperative society at Bolgarh and those of Satabhaya cooperative society at Jatni have started weaving linen and mercerised fabrics. We hope that the weavers of Begunia, Khurda town, Tangi, Balipatna and Balianta will also opt for the new fabrics. Now, we are providing at least 11 varieties of thread to weavers,â€ said Debraj Sahu, assistant textiles officer in Khurda
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