Reed craft eyes larger market
|A basket made of kouna|
Guwahati, Sept. 17: The kouna (reed) handicrafts of Manipur are all set to get a foothold in the national market.
The Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, Guwahati, which has been working on a cluster development approach, has chalked out a strategy to provide the handicraft a national market by approaching big brands.
Kouna, a reed variety found only in Manipur, has been the source of development of a localised craft.
The IIE had also developed a cluster at Khangabok of Thoubal district across three villages located within a radius of 5km.
The cluster has a total of 250 households, which are engaged in making kouna products.
The items produced include ladies bags to chappals, hats, floor mats, cushions, chairs.
“With globalisation posing a challenge, the growth of clusters can not only lower the cost of production but can also give a thrust to accessing a wider market,” an IIE official said.
“The intervention in this cluster started from June last year and we found that products were mainly sold in the local market and were not exposed to the national market. Hence, for the development of this cluster, it became very essential to provide training on design to the artisans,” Sriparna Baruah of the Regional Resource Centre of Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship told The Telegraph.
She said a professional designer was engaged and a training programme was conducted to help develop new products.
“Earlier we saw that womenfolk in the cluster were not skilled enough but with our initiative they were trained to make at least 15 new designs, including both hats and bags. Soon after the training programme, they started practising making bags and hats with the newly taught designs,” she said.
Once the cluster products were developed, the Regional Resource Centre team took up an initiative to provide a national market and ANT, a retail store in Bangalore, was approached.
“Since then initiatives are on to approach big brands such as Fabindia to provide a bigger market,” she said.
The total annual production of different products manufactured in the cluster stands at 1,63,46,250 in number.
Kouna, once planted, can produce raw material for more than six to seven years if properly managed.
Awareness camps have been conducted to inform the artisans of the concept of the cluster approach, its benefits and crafts within the cluster.
The Centre had mandated the IIE to set up a Regional Resource Centre to promote the cluster development approach in the region.
The centre has its nodal office on the premises of IIE, Guwahati, with state centres in the rest of the seven states across the region with a holistic approach toward capacity building.