INDIA: Kerala handloom industry in pitiable state
The handloom sector was a very vibrant industry in Kerala, till just a few years ago. But various factors, of which government neglect tops, amongst the reasons for the dismal state of affairs in the Kerala handloom industry.
About fifteen years ago, there were around 510,000 weavers, which has now dropped down to just 195,000. The handloom weaver’s cooperatives societies have also fallen by a sharp 50 percent in the same period.
Till just a few years ago, Kerala stood fourth in handloom production in the country, just behind, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Buy unfortunately, the numbers of weavers keep falling with each passing year.
Low wages is one of the other reasons for traditional handloom weaver’s opting out of the trade. Powerlooms have also spelled nemesis for the industry, with powerlooms supplying cloth at cheaper rates compared to by handloom cooperatives.
The state which used to export to quality conscious countries of the European Union is not in a position today, to export to the very same countries. They have also taken huge loans which they have not been able to repay.
Till, just a few decades ago, handloom was the second highest job generator after agriculture as handlooms could be set up even in mud houses and became a source of second income for the poor farmers hailing from rural areas.
Though it is mandatory in a few government departments to source handlooms for uniforms, which is a ready made outlet for the industry, it is weavers who do not seem to be interested, due to the pitiable wages which they draw.
The Kerala government on its part is now trying to stem the flow of weavers forsaking the handlooms and has allocated a higher amount in this year’s budget and an increase in the weaver’s wages is also under consideration.
Added: March 2, 2009 Source: Agencies