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Handloom weavers pin hopes on online platform as pandemic threatens to disrupt market

The platform with NABARD support aims at helping weavers sell products across the globe adhering to quality standards

Handloom weavers in Ernakulam district, mostly comprising cooperative societies from Chendamangalam, are looking forward to a boost in sales through its newly launched online platform, as the third wave of COVID-19 threatens to disrupt the market.

The online platform, with support from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), has been launched at a time when weavers’ societies are facing serious shortage of raw materials like hang yarn. The steep rise in prices of raw materials too has come as a big setback to traditional handloom production units, which had been hoping for a revival of fortunes after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and Onam and Christmas seasons saw an increase in sales.

The Chendamangalam Handloom Weavers Societies Empowerment Consortium has soft-launched the online marketing platform, said Ajith Kumar Gothuruth, secretary of Chendamangalam-Karimpadam Weaving Cooperative H191. He added that the platform would help weavers sell their products across the globe adhering to quality standards.

T.S. Baby, a veteran in the handloom sector, said the extended rebate for 10 days during Christmas had a positive impact on sales. However, the serious shortage of raw materials and their spiralling prices turned out to be a huge setback to the sector on which thousands of families in the district depended, he added.

While yarn price has gone up by around 30%, that of dyeing materials has risen by almost 100% over the last eight months. Mr. Baby said the government had also reduced the subsidy offered on the transport cost of yarn, and incentives like depot subsidy had been cut to 25% of the earlier levels.

Bulk of the yarn for cooperative weavers societies is imported from Tamil Nadu. There have been reports of a fall in production as well as export of yarn causing shortage of the raw material. Though spinning mills in Kerala too produce yarn, the production level is low owing to several reasons including shortage of cotton, said Mr. Ajith Kumar.

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