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Proposal for Action-Research in developing local handloom industry in West Bengal: With the participation of Panchayati Raj

UZRAMMA | |
Uzramma, a practicing goldsmith, has been instrumental in promoting Andhra crafts, particularly Kondapally painted wooden figures, Nirmal painted wood, Etikoppakka lacquered wood and Kalahasti Kalamkari (hand-painted temple cloths). She is one of the founding trustees of the Dastkar Andhra Trust, dedicated to the support of the cotton handloom industry of India, and of the Decentralized Cotton Yarn Trust, which promotes small-scale cotton yarn production for handweaving and is currently involved in a research project to develop small-scale pre-spinning processes.

August 2013, Craft Revival Trust

Introduction
Handloom weaving continues in the 21st century to be the second largest occupation in the country after agriculture. Its potential for growth as a viable rural industry employing vast numbers is immense, if the necessary developmental impetus can be given to contemporize the industry in tune with social and market realities of the day. In recognition of this potential both Central and State Governments have since Independence put in place various delivery systems for state support to the industry, through the Office of the Development Commissioner, Handlooms under the Ministry of Textiles, NABARD, and the Ministry of Handlooms in West Bengal. The Ministry of Rural Development, Governmentt of West Bengal has now designated the handloom industry as one of the five rural industries to be supported as key generators of rural employment. However the ground reality of lack of co-ordination between the various agencies of the Government has meant that government support has in most cases neither reached the intended beneficiaries – the primary producers - nor has it succeeded in building the institutional support necessary for a vibrant and self-reliant industry.

Background to the project
Recognizing the need for active collaboration of agencies of State and Central Government with local panchayats and weaver organizations in order to promote the growth of the handloom industry, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India, has taken the initiative to take up an Action Research Project that would indicate directions on how such collaborations could be structured, to deliver the support needed from the Government to build a vibrant handloom industry.

This proposal was drawn up in consultation with weavers formed into about 20 Self-help groups in Saspur village, Kalna II block, Burdwan district. Present at the consultations were DPD, Monitoring, DRDC, BDO, Kalna II, the member, Gram Panchayat, the Sabapathi, and the Karmadhyaksh, [Chairperson, Standing Committee], Zilla Parishad. Ms Nilanjana, Assistant Director, SIPRD, Ms Sohini Bannerji, LDO, DRDC Burdwan, and Uzramma, Member, Core Group on Textiles, Min of Panchayati Raj, GOI, conducted the meeting.

Objectives

The long-term objectives of the project are to

  • Indicate a direction for concerted government support to handloom weaving in West Bengal, based on ground realities, incorporating a culture of transparency and accountability.

  • Restructure existing production, marketing, financial and support institutions to serve the real needs of the industry.

  • Delineate a role for Gram Panchayats in support of handloom weaving and integrate handloom weaving organizations into the panchayat structure

The short-term objective of the project [within the project time-frame] is to

Develop replicable producer-controlled credit, production and marketing systems for a production unit of 200-250 looms, involving panchayats and state and central government agencies.

Project summary
The project will be located in Purna Laxmi tala, Saspur village, Kalna II. Guided by the expressed needs of the actual producer families, the project will address key issues of credit, infrastructure, raw material, production, market linkages and marketing. Producer families will be trained in the managerial aspects of different components of the handloom business. In the process, viable production structures and roles for Panchayat bodies as information hubs and monitoring agencies are expected to emerge, as a step towards eventual decentralized planning of handloom development from Central Government. Collaboration will be actively solicited from State and Central government agencies involved with handlooms to provide support in responsive and transparent ways.

Project details
Handloom activity in the village of Saspur as in other regions of West Bengal is dominated by the maliks and mahajans. If the weaver family does not own the loom but works on a loom belonging to the malik, earnings vary between Rs 800 – Rs 1250 per month. If the family owns the loom, earnings can go up to Rs 2000-2500. However, when the product is taken to the market for sale, the only buyer is the malik, who not only pays a low rate, but pays it in the form of 50% cash and 50% yarn, thus forcing the weaver to become part of a continuous cycle of low-wage production.

In order to free the primary producer family from this exploitative cycle, it is necessary to simultaneously address the issues of credit, yarn supply, dyeing and marketing. Training in basic management practices as well as technical aspects will be necessary, and will be addressed through the ‘Action Research’ project. Documentation of the project will be simultaneously carried out.

The project will take up the 5 issues [credit, yarn supply, dyeing, marketing, and training in basic management] in relation to the handloom business of the SHGs of Saspur village. A baseline survey and process documentation will measure the progress of the project, as well as serve as a guide for replication. Initiatives in each issue will be structured in a phased manner, so that producer families are enabled from the beginning to handle the processes themselves.

The project will be carried out in two phases. It is proposed that the first phase, consisting of the components listed above, will be completed within two years, towards the end of which the second phase, consisting of product diversification and exploration of further markets, will be taken up. However, time-frames are not seen as rigid, and may be adjusted through a regular review process. 6 monthly reviews will be carried out by the monitoring agency, SIPRD, the advisor, Uzramma, and the technical consultants with the participants and facilitators.

As a first step, a Core Committee [CC] will be formed from among the participating SHGs. The process will be initiated as a preliminary to the project, and activities under the project will be taken up only when the CC has matured enough to take consensual decisions1. This may take upto 6 months. This body will be the implementing agency of the project. The powers and responsibilities of the CC will be clearly defined, and a small fund will be made available for organizational expenses. The DRDC at the district level, the Panchayat Samiti at the block level and Gram Panchayat at village level will monitor the project through a structured monitoring and evaluation format. The Co-ordinating Committee with the monitoring agencies will select a local NGO as a facilitator to the project. SIPRD will act as consultant to the project, and Uzramma as advisor. NABARD, local Handloom Ministry officials and field staff, the Weavers’ Service Centre, and the State Apex Co-operative Society will be kept informed and invited to offer suggestions and share expertise. Consultants and experts will be appointed as necessary.

Activities under Phase I, Years 1 & 2

  1. Credit:


  2. Credit needs of the handloom industry need to be addressed from a business perspective, rather than as related to the thrift capability of the producer unit. Credit is required in the form of

    A. loans for infrastructure: production infrastructure is required in the form of looms and accessories for 100 looms2

    B. loans for working capital: working capital for the dyeing and yarn-trading activities.
      Year 1 Year 2
    Looms 20/Rs 24,0003 30/Rs 36,0004
    Working capital for dyeing Amount5 Amount6
    Working capital for yarn Amount amount
    Management training in finance & accounting Months 6, 8, 10  
    Refresher training Months 13, 15, 17


  3. Dyeing:


  4. Dyeing is the first activity which the weavers felt that they needed to control, since price differentials of dyed and undyed yarn are substantial and the colours that they want are not always available. Dyeing activity will be taken up in the following stages:
    1. A Dyeing Committee [DC]will be chosen from among the SHG members, under the supervision of the CC, which will be responsible for the management of the dyeing activity.

    2. The DC will select 10 candidates to be trained in dyeing. The selected candidates will undergo the first stage of training in local dye-houses, who will report on their progress.

    3. A dye-house will be constructed according to plans made by the advisor, on the location selected by the CC in consultation with the Panchayat, with land provided by the Panchayat.

    4. A dyeing master will be appointed by the DC, in consultation with technical advisors, for an 18 month tenure[which may be extended]. The master will run the local dyeing unit, as well as train the local dyers. 2 dyers out of the trained dyers will work in rotation in the dye-house with the master-dyer. Wage supplement will be paid till earnings from dyeing are equal to daily wages.


    DYEING

    COMPONENT RESPONSIBILITY FUNDING TIME-FRAME
    Selection of DC SHGs - Month 1
    Selection of dyers, exposure visits CC/DC - Month 2
    Selection of local dye-houses for  training, preparation of brief DC,Facilitator/DRDC Project Month 2
    Training of dyer candidates in local dye-houses DC, Facilitator/DRDC Project Months 3-4
    Advertisement, appointment of Master-dyer CC/DC, Facilitator/DRDC consultant Project Months 4-5
    Induction of Master-dyer, Purchase of basic equipment, training in village CC/DC, Facilitator/DRDC Project Months 5-14
    Plan & budget for dye-house construction, equipment; CC/DC, Facilitator/DRDC, Consultant, Master-dyer Project Months 6-7
    Dye-house construction & equipment; Panchayat, DC, Facilitator/DRDC, Master-dyer Project Months 7-14
    Dye-house operation with Master dyer DC, Facilitator/DRDC Project Months 14-24
    Management training for dyers CC/DC, Facilitator/DRDC Project Month 17-18
    Handing over from Master dyer DC, Facilitator/DRDC Project Month 24;
    Refresher management trg CC/DC, Facilitator/DRDC Project Project Month 24

    n.b. quantities of yarn dyed as well as range of colours will be small to begin with, for 4-5 looms, increasing gradually.

  5. Yarn supply:



  6. Availability of yarn is a serious constraint for independent weaving. Supplies of yarn in local haats are available only through the maliks, at a substantially higher cost than the wholesale price prevailing in the Kolkatha haat. Through the project it is proposed to familiarize the weaver SHGs with the business of yarn supply, by entering the trade in small steps. The first Yarn Committee [YC-1] will be elected by the weaver SHGs, under the supervision of the CC, which will manage and operate the yarn trading activity. It will purchase yarn in the Kolkatha haat and make it available in Saspur for dyeing and weaving. The yarn supply activity will be coordinated with dyeing. In the first stage, yarn will be purchased for 4-5 looms, which will be dyed by the trainee dyers under the supervision of the master-dyer. Quantities will gradually be increased to cover an increasing number of looms. Dyed yarn will be purchased for looms other than those using yarn dyed in the dyehouse. A second Yarn Committee [YC-2] will also be initiated into the process of yarn trade. Both groups will be trained in management and accounting. One person each in turn from YC-1 & YC-2 will work as sales and account-keeper, with a salary paid for the project period.

    Activity

    Quantity of yarn to be bought

    Time-frame

    Formation of YC

    -

    Month 1

    Exposure visit

    -

    Month 2

    First yarn purchase

    Rotation for 5 looms

    Month 3

    Rotating appointment of sales/accounts person

    Months 3-24

    2nd yarn purchase by YC 1

    -

    -

    YC 2, first purchase

    -

    Month 4

    Training in accounts, management* for YC1 &2

    -

    Month5-6

    Alternate purchase by YC1 & 2

    Rotation for 8 looms

    Months 7-12

    Refresher course in management

    Month 12

    -

    Rotation for 10 looms

    Months 13-18

    Alternate purchase by YC1 & 2

    Rotation for 12 looms

    Months19-24

    *Trainers selected by consultant

  7. Marketing:



  8. The ultimate value of the project activity will be realized in the form of the expected increase in returns from newly created marketing avenues. Preliminary research indicates that the product of the Saspur looms will find a ready market in the local haats. In addition, higher returns from direct sale through exhibitions will enhance the overall earnings of the producers, as well as give them an essential exposure to the end-user of the product. Exposure will enable the producers to judge the direction in which the market trends are moving, and to adjust their production accordingly. Product development based on market learning can be undertaken in the follow-up phase of the project, to widen the market horizons of the producer group. Marketing Committees will be formed of weaver families in rotation, so that eventually most of the producers get an exposure to the marketing activity.

    Under the project it is proposed to take up an increasing market presence, in tandem with the strengthening of production through the dyeing and yarn purchase activities. Regular attendance at the local haats will be the first step. A preliminary discussion has been held with the Malik of the Samudragarh haat, and terms and conditions ascertained. It is proposed to introduce the producer groups directly to this haat, and to support their participation through the infrastructure support fund of the DRDC.

    A record will be kept of sale prices obtained before the project, with comparisons of marketing cost/enhanced prices derived from haat participation & exhibition sales, to determine the most cost-effective sales channels.

    As production in the village increases, local markets may become saturated with the undifferentiated product. At that point it may become necessary to explore new avenues of sale, to prevent unhealthy competition among producers. Since new product development requires development time of 6 months and then a lead time of 6 months to reach marketability, it is proposed to take up product design and diversification in the early stage of Phase II, so as to be ready with new designs simultaneously with the exploration of new markets towards the end of the project period [Year 3]

    Project funding in the first phase will support exposure visits, exhibition participation, training in marketing, market research and analysis.

  9. Training:


  10. In each aspect of the handloom business, training in management will be required. Training will also be given in simple accounting, and technical training in dyeing. Training components have been budgeted under respective heads.

  11. Baseline Survey & Process Documentation



  12. To identify the existing gaps, analyse the present situation and also to monitor progress and study the impact of the action research project on the handloom livelihood of the stakeholders a base line survey will be conducted. The base line survey will cover collection of qualitative information by adopting some PLA tools and techniques such as focus group discussion (for problem census), participatory resource mapping (to find out present resource base, institutional analysis (to identify different stakeholders).

    Based on this qualitative information, quantitative information will be gathered through questionnaire survey to be administered on different stake-holders such as weavers, maliks and mahajans, cross section of potential market segments, and PRI representatives.

    This evaluation will be supported by documentation of the entire process of action research. The documentation process will systematically keep records of the steps taken during the action research, number of visits, issues of discussion intervention points, conducive and retarding factors faced during the action research capacity building procedure, contents of training, feedback of the training etc.

    Activities under Phase II, Years 2 & 3

  13. Product development & diversification:


While the current product range of the Saspur weaver group is adequate for the existing local markets, it will be necessary to expand the range to include items other than sarees, which form presently 100% of the production. Prediction of future market trends as part of market research and analysis will be carried out, and a step-by-step product development and diversification programme undertaken. The new products will be promoted through appropriate promotional campaigns. For the product development an experienced Product development and design consultant team consisting of designer and technical expert will be appointed, who will not only guide the producer groups in the design of new products in response to market demand, but also take responsibility for the success of the newly developed products in the market through a process of ‘merchandizing’, that is, of placing the new products in the appropriate market segment. Side by side, the consultant team will give training in design and product development to selected members of the production units, so that design and product development becomes incorporated into the production process.

The following is a provisional schedule of design and development, to be adjusted according to market analysis, marketing seasons, and the progress achieved in Phase I of the project:

COMPONENT

RESPONSIBILITY

FUNDING

TIME-FRAME

Appointment of design & product development team [DPDT]

CC, Advisor

Project

Month 20

Appointment of market research training consultant

CC, Facilitator, DRDC

Project

Month 20

Training in market research, analysis

CC, Facilitator, consultant

Project

Month 20-24

Orientation, selection of trainees, first design collection [drawings & graphs]

Facilitator, DPDT

Project

Months 21-24

First design samples produced

DPDT

Project

Months 25-26

Test marketing, market feedback

DPDT, Marketing Committees

Project

Months 27-28

Modification of samples according to market response

DPDT

Project

Months 29-30

Production, promotion and marketing of new collection

CC, Facilitator, Production units, DPDT, Marketing Committees

Project

Month 31-36


BUDGETS

Budget 1# – Credit
1. Training in finance management, accounting for group members, year 1 15 000  
2. Refresher courses, year 2 20000  
3. Revolving capital grant 100 000*

135 000

*Beginning at Rs 30,000 for 3 month rotation in early months of project, working capital requirement rises gradually to Rs 1,00,000 in months 19-24: see Annexure 1. #this will be generated from NABARD/SGSY, not included in project budget

Budget 2 - Dyeing
1. Training at local dyehouses:
wages for 10 trainees, Rs 60 / person/day, 60 days

36000
 
travel, other expenditure 20000  
2. Advertisement, travel for interviews 30000  
3. Salary of Master dyer, 18 months @ Rs 7,000 per month 126000  
4. Wage supplement of 2-3 dyers, 24 months# approx 60000
5. Dyehouse construction[including yarn storage facility] 100000  
6. Dyehouse equipment 50000  
7. Cost of dyes & chemicals, revolving fund 10000
8. Management training & refresher course, 4 persons@ ------ 432000

# since quantities to be dyed are less, wages will need to be supplemented
@this may be clubbed with management training for yarn purchase

Budget 3 - Yarn purchase
1. Travel funds for exposure & purchase visits*: 12000  
2. Transport subsidy# 10000  
3. Salary for salesperson/accountant, 21 months@ 42000
4. Management & refresher courses, year 1 & 2 30000 94000

*YC = 3 PERSONS, MONTHLY VISIT TO Kolkatha+ one exposure visit with guide=13 visits=3 x Rs 300 x13 = Rs 11,700=12,000
# All yarn transport costs for Phase 1 will be paid from Project
@ Starting after month 3

Budget 4 - Marketing:
1. Exposure visits to local haats and exhibitions 10 visits of 5 persons each [hire of van, daily wage compensation] 15000  
2. Exhibition participation – travel, board & lodging for 3 persons, transport of goods, etc 10 exhibitions @ 15,000 per exhibition 150000  
3. Exhibition publicity, stall charges, display, etc 40000
4. Travel, transport of goods for participation in local haats 20000 225000


Budget 5 - Baseline Survey & Process Documentation
1. Qualitative survey using PLA( four sessions):
a) Cost of Management of PLA sessions
b) Fee for PLA consultant ( Rs 2500 X4)

1000
10000
 
2. Questionnaire design 2500  
3. Printing of questionnaires 1000  
4. Administration of survey (Rs 20X100) 2000  
5. TA/ DA to the surveyors (Rs 500X7) 3500
6. Supervision cost (including mobility support) 5000  
7. Data entry ( Rs 50 X 100) 5000  
8. Data analysis 5000 35000

Budget 6 - Design, Product Development & Market Research Training:
1. Consultancy fee and travel expenditure for DPDT[2 persons] 200000  
2. Cost of sampling, product development, test marketing, promotion 150000  
3. Consultancy fee for market research training 25000
4. Documentation of samples, sample books 50000 425000

Budget 7 – Costs of Facilitation, Committee meetings, advisor’s visits, etc
1. Meetings and incidental funds for Co-ordinating Committee, 3 years 21000  
2. Salaries for local facilitation, salaries of 2 representatives of facilitating organization @ Rs 2,000 per month, 36 months 144000  
3. Travel costs for Advisor [Uzramma]: Air fare Hyderabad-Kolkatha-Hyderabad, two trips per year, 3 years 66000 231000


TOTAL


1337000
 

Rupees Thirteen lakhs and thirty-seven thousand only.

Uzramma
Member, Core Group on Textiles, Ministry of Panchayati Raj

Annexure 1: Monthwise Yarn purchase calendar, Phase 1 -Years 1&2

month

No of looms

No of warps to be dyed

Undyed yarn  for dyeing*[kgs]

Cost [Rs]

No of dyedwarps

Dyed yarn [kgs]*

Cost [Rs]

Total cost [Rs]

1

5

10

23

6440

5

11.5

3670

10110

2

5

10

23

6440

5

11.5

3670

10110

3

5

10

23

6440

5

11.5

3670

10110

4

5

15

34.5

9660

5

11.5

3670

13330

5

5

15

34.5

9660

5

11.5

3670

13330

6

5

15

34.5

9660

5

11.5

3670

13330

7

8

16

36.8

10304

8

18.4

6352

16656

8

8

16

36.8

10304

8

18.4

6352

16656

9

8

20

46

12880

8

18.4

6352

19232

10

8

20

46

12880

8

18.4

6352

19232

11

8

24

55.2

15456

8

18.4

6352

21808

12

8

24

55.2

15456

8

18.4

6352

21808

13

10

30

69

19320

10

23.0

7940

27260

14

10

30

69

19320

10

23.0

7940

27260

15

10

30

69

19320

10

23.0

7940

27260

16

10

30

69

19320

10

23.0

7940

27260

17

10

30

69

19320

10

23.0

7940

27260

18

10

30

69

19320

10

23.0

7940

27260

19

12

36

82.8

23184

12

27.6

9528

32712

20

12

36

82.8

23184

12

27.6

9528

32712

21

12

36

82.8

23184

12

27.6

9528

32712

22

12

36

82.8

23184

12

27.6

9528

32712

23

12

36

82.8

23184

12

27.6

9528

32712

24

12

36

82.8

23184

12

27.6

9528

32712

n.b.: estimates are approximate, cost will be according to prevailing market rates

This is calculated at the rate of Rs 280 per kg cost of yarn, 2.3 kg per warp, dyeing charges Rs 150 per warp.

The WORKING CAPITAL component is based on this table

ENDNOTES

  1. This will be the responsibility of the DRDC

  2. Out of 20 local SHGs comprising 249 members, 130 are weavers. 20 have already set up their own looms. Under Phase 1 of the ‘Action Research’ project, 20 looms will be set up, 30 under Phase 2, 30 under Phase 3.

  3. From SGSY Revolving Fund

  4. From SGSY Revolving Fund

  5. See annexure 1, monthwise dyeing calendar

  6. See annexure 1, monthwise dyeing calendar

Report prepared in consultation with SIPRD, DRDC Burdwan, and the weavers of Saspur Village, Kalna II, Burdwan, West Bengal. Submitted to Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India. March 7, 2006



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