TODAY -

Yet another bid to promote state's largest cottage industry
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: August 31, 2022 -



HANDLOOM and handicraft products of Manipur might not be of world class but it's an undeniable fact that uniqueness of designs of the majorly handcrafted local products coupled with use of environment-friendly raw materials make them attractive to the buyers.

Officially, handloom continues to be the fastest growing industry in the state which has a record number of loom workers and' is the largest cottage industry playing a vital role in boosting the economy.

About a decade back, a report was made public by department officials that over 1.90 lakh looms are carrying out production activities across the state with the special feature of handloom industry being that the women are the only weavers.

It is also worth mentioning that in 2018, Manipur Handloom & Handicraft Development Corporation Limited had set sight on supplying uniforms for students of schools across the state to boost the morale of handloom weavers for whom procuring raw materials and modern machinery as well as marketing the finished products remain problematic.

The MHHDC even proposed that the government put in place a policy to make locally produced handloom items/ uniforms mandatory for all schools to help the weavers sustain the traditional art.

As handloom and handicrafts had been one of the few but important industries contributing to the economic structure and development of the state, the then proposal was expected to increase productivity.

However, with no signs of the local products either used widely in government institutions or students seen attired in uniforms made of locally made fabrics, there is no doubt that the initiative failed to generate much interest.

For now, the sale of state's handloom and handicraft items is limited to purchases made during exhibitions held at national and international levels, thereby testifying that the cost factor, among other reasons, might be deterring the natives from owning the local products for daily usage or decorative purposes.

For ages, Manipur's economy has been relying on agriculture and its allied small scale industries with majority of the population sustaining their livelihood in this sector.

However, the state is yet to see the sun of development in agribusiness and agriculture sector as most of the people living in rural areas have marginal land, many of them have limited know-how on modern methods of farming and do not have access to facilities to increase shelf life of the agricultural produces.

With the irrigation network far from being satisfactory, it seems that the day is not far off when the people will repent for believing Manipur will achieve the goal of food-grain sufficiency in the near future.

As such, the focus should be towards developing the time tested handloom and handicraft sectors and effectively promote the local products.

On his part, chief minister N Biren seems to have realised the importance of boosting the morale of handloom and handicraft artisans through use of varied local products in his office, which is exemplary and appreciable.

The replacement of imported items with local products should not be confined to the chief minister's and ministers' offices but also need to be expanded to residences of all the elected people's representatives for it is their bounden-duty to help the artisans sustain livelihood activities.



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