‘Sourcing raw materials is a tough job’
After trying their hand at various eco-friendly fabric materials stained with vegetable dyes, the weavers of Anakaputhur have come out with sarees made out of yarn from pineapple leaves.
The weavers, mostly women, said the raw materials are available in abundance in the neighbouring Kerala, but bringing them here to make an earning is a tough task.
Over the years, weaving had lost its sheen and is now restricted to only to a few families. Some of the families own pit looms to weave dress materials from natural fibres, with some government support.
Self-help groups and members of Anakaputhur Jute Weavers Association these days are busy trying to meet the deadline for bulk orders.
According to C. Sekar, president of the association, dresses woven from natural fibres are in great demand in the country and overseas. “Raw fibre is purchased in bulk from growers in Kerala and we have been trying to get it from the northeastern States too. The fibres are cleaned through a strenuous bleaching process. After a very delicate process of removing single strands of the fibre, they are woven into fabrics like any other material,” he explained.
As the fibre has an affinity for colours, attractive designs can be woven, he added.
Self-help groups can be trained and encouraged to take up weaving of natural fibre such as jute and banana, which is quite profitable. The Indian Bank at Anakaputhur had provided assistance to self-help groups in the area, which included nearly a dozen groups involved in weaving jute and banana fibre. The bank was satisfied with the re-payment capacity of the groups and the the finished goods would be sold at exhibitions organised by Central and State agencies promoting handlooms, besides select private firms.
The price of a saree woven using pineapple fibre starts at Rs. 3,000 and it takes a weaver seven to eight days to make one. “If more support in the form of additional funding is offered, the weavers would thrive to earn a decent living,” he said.