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Textile Ministry to help market Assam handloom
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, Sept 7 – There is good news for the weavers of the country, especially those from Assam, as their concern about market and marketing strategies of handloom products would now be handled by two corporations of the Union Textile Ministry.

Union Minister for Textile KS Rao today said that the National Textile Corporation (NTC) and National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC) have signed an agreement to find better markets of handloom products of the weavers of the country.

Under the agreement, the two corporations would not only oversee the marketing aspect, but also give assistance in terms of technology and supply of raw materials for the products and importantly finding the markets.

“The NHDC and NTC have signed the agreement and would look after the welfare of the weavers of the country in terms of technological inputs and buying and selling of their products,” Rao, said at the sidelines of a foundation stone laying programme of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) here.

The agreement assumes significance considering the violence that erupted at Sualkuchi, Assam in March this year. Weavers in Sualkuchi, famous for producing the Assam silk, were upset that some of the traditional handloom products of Assam were being produced in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and sold in the State.

In the absence of a specific strategy in marketing products and looking after the unorganised weaving sector of the textile industry, the Sualkuchi incident was probably unfortunate, but a timely reminder that attention is required for a work force of about 43.31 lakh handloom workers, traditionally dependent on this sector.

Rao said that NHDC, under the agreement would also supply yarn to weavers directly, in identified clusters and would buy the finished products from the weavers. The NHDC in turn would sell the products to the NTC for sale to the consumers at its 84 retail stores spread across the country.

Moreover, the Ministry of Textile together with the Apex Societies of Handlooms, the NHDC and a private sector bank would form a joint venture (JV) company. The JV would promote and market handloom products across the country and abroad through retail selling and in fairs and exhibitions.

Another important aspect is that NIFT has been assigned to document traditional handloom motifs and insignia from the region and the country, so that Geographical Indication tags could be allotted. This step would further help to discourage a Sualkuchi-like situation, where weavers took to the streets because Varanasi silk weavers replicated Assam silk with inferior material and swarmed the Assam market and sold them at lower prices.

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