Adyar Bakery - since 1952
Vol 5 Issue 47, Nov 21 - 27, 2014
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Earthcraft helps hill communities to take their eco-friendly products to the maddening cities

   By  Kavita Kanan Chandra
  
27 Nov 2014
Posted 11-Jan-2013
Vol 4 Issue 2

Trained in community work at Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, Rashmi Bharti and her husband Rajnish Jain moved to the hills in 1997 and set up base at Berinag village in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand in the Central Himalayan range.

While Rajnish focused on promoting solar energy in the region through the NGO ‘Avani’ they founded in 1999, Rashmi found her calling in reviving the traditional craft of weaving, spinning and natural dyeing that was once thriving among the Bora Kuthalia and Shauka communities in the region.

Rashmi's Earthcraft achieved a sale of Rs 41 lakhs last year

In just a few years, her initiative has grown into a full-fledged business providing not only jobs for the locals but also contributing to development of the natural dye industry, which was almost dead and gone.

When Rashmi got into the field of natural dyes, the tiny remnant of artisans left in the occupation was using only limited colours such as golden yellow, yellow and brown in their works. Dye was extracted from two plants - locally called ‘shampatti’ and ‘dolu’ - found in high altitudes. People had also started using chemicals in the process.

The scenario has totally changed now. Earthcraft, the cooperative that Rashmi launched in 2005, deals with a wide range of products including sarees, shawls, stoles, mufflers, home furnishings, and garments for men, women and children.

A wide range of colours are being used in the products. “We have all colours of the rainbow,” says Rashmi.

Dye is extracted from about 80 plants. Some of the sources include indigo, turmeric, tea leaves, onion skin, soap nut leaves, marigold flowers, pomegranate rind, walnut leaves and fruits, rhododendron flowers and leaves among others.

Other sources such as Eupatorium that sprout wildly and prevent growth of other plants have also been identified. Locals would be employed to uproot these plants from the forest. While it would help in regeneration of the forest, the uprooting exercise would provide jobs for the locals and raw material for natural dye.

Earthcraft has already benefitted hundreds of farmers and artisans, majority of them from the Bora Kuthalia and Shauka communities.

The weavers earn around Rs 2500-3000 per month. Spinning is done part-time by ladies who earn about Rs 500 per month. Collection of raw-materials for dyeing is seasonal.

Rashmi says 60 percent of their naturally dyed textiles, woven silk and wool are sold through retail centers, exhibitions and events in domestic market, and the rest exported to countries like Japan, Canada, and France.

“Last year (April 2011-March 2012) we sold more than 3000 stoles and mufflers and 215 shawls. More than 500 Kg of naturally dyed yarn and over 11 litres of water colour were sold and this is set to increase this year,” said Rajendra Kumar Joshi, who works at Earthcraft.

Women engaged in dyeing work

The sale was worth Rs.41 lakhs, but the venture is yet to make profit, as funds are just enough to cover the running cost and the increasing budget to create additional infrastructure.

Earthcraft has received several awards and honours, which include: certification for absence of pentachlorophenol and amines, administered by Laboratories of the Textile Committee, Ministry of Textiles in Mumbai, for their indigo and eupatorium dyes; UNESCO Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts, for two of their silk stoles.

On the controversy surrounding hemp farming, Rashmi says there are varieties of hemp with low narcotics level that could be used for fibre production. In the past, local communities used hemp fibre for spinning and weaving, but the current legalities in hemp farming have deterred people from venturing into it.

Hemp seeds are used as spices, stem for fibre and leaves as narcotics (bhang). Nepal has a thriving industry in weaving, making paper and shoes from hemp fibres, says Rashmi.

Earthcraft has identified about 125 acres of wasteland, where they plan to involve local farmers for cultivating plants suitable for making natural dyes. The project would ensure supply of raw materials for Earthcraft, while creating employment opportunities for many.
 



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   


You might also like:

Tiger's den

Celebrating its 75th year, the Jim Corbett National Park, which is home to 200 plus tigers, or almost 1 in every 8 of the big cats surviving in India, is a success story in tiger conservation

Read More

Dream school

What he was deprived of, Harekal Hajabba wanted to give the children of his village. So the illiterate fruit seller set up a school in Nyupadpu with his own meagre income, says Sahana Attur

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
FPJs Meet Vidyaakar
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

A terminator

Learning that his mother’s swollen legs were caused by mosquitoes, Ignatius Orwin Noronha always wanted to exterminate the blood sucker. Now, he has developed MozziQuit, which promises to make India mosquito free by 2019, says Partho Burman

Read More

Height of concern

From a school teacher in Gurgaon to a benefactor supporting 38,000 students in Ladakh, Sujata Sahu has trekked great heights. Partho Burman tells us about her 17,000ft Foundation that engages volunteer-tourists to help students in the hills

Read More

Martyr’s wife

After losing her husband in an armed conflict in Kashmir, Subhashini Vasanth embarked on a mission to help war widows. A journey with twists and turns has now enabled her to make a difference in the lives of many women, says Tisha Srivastav

Read More

Fruits of labour

‘Pazhamudir Nilayam’, a small venture in 1950s by two brothers in Coimbatore, has grown into a multi-city vegetable and fruit business. Next, the company plans to take orders over phone and internet for home delivery, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Social technology

When technologists with social conscience innovate, society benefits by getting amazing products that change the life of common people. Bhanu Priya Vyas writes about four innovations showcased at the recent India Social Good Summit in Delhi

Read More

Motorcycle diary

An adventurous ride on a 500 cc motorcycle from Chandigarh took Samiksha Bali Dutta not just to her dream destination, Ladakh, but also helped realise a dream of turning a professional rider

Read More

Teacher Amma

A school teacher, who believes she is a mother to her students, G Sripriya, affectionately called by her students as ‘Priya Amma’ runs 29 tuition centres for underprivileged children through her team of volunteers, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Eyeing options

Where millions suffer from eye disorders, a young ophthalmologist has set up a clinic to bring eye care within the reach of the poor and the rural population. Akash Bisht spoke to Parveez Ubed, who started ERC Eye Care 3 years ago in Assam

Read More

Tender idea

One reason carbonated soft drinks score over tender coconut is the packaging. A new machine innovated by Vinod Mahadeviah, which breaks and instantly cools tender coconuts, may make the natural drink more popular, feels Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Milky way

The denial of visa shattered his dream to study in the land of milk and honey. But Bhasker Reddy managed to squeeze honey out of milk in India by starting a dairy business in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the first generation entrepreneur

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.