Move to help natural fibre-based enterprises, create rural jobs in 11 backward districts

The West Bengal Government has set up a Rs 257-crore Natural Fibre Mission for the development of natural fibre-based enterprises in the State and the generation of rural employment.

“A Rs 257-crore project under this Mission will help generate rural livelihoods in 11 backward districts of the State,” Micro and Small Scale Enterprises and Textiles Minister, Mr Manas Bhunia, told PTI.

The Minister said the mission would help in harnessing natural fibre-based industries such as mat, bamboo, babui grass, sisal grass, jute, coir, silk and cotton to aid the rural community.

The 11 backward districts include West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Birbhum, South 24-Parganas, Murshidabad and Malda, he said.

The West Bengal State Export Promotion Society, under this Department, had participated in ‘Ambiente Fair’ held at Frankfurt, Germany, from February 10-14 for display of handicraft products manufactured with natural fibre such as mat sticks, babui grass, mothra, and jute.

The State received good response in terms of procurement of orders and establishment of business contacts, Mr Bhunia said.

Mega handloom cluster

The society also participated in the International Autumn Fair at Birmingham, UK from September 4-7 last year with products by the handicraft artisans in order to provide them best possible marketing support globally.

Initiatives have also been taken to promote marketing of handicraft and natural fibre produced nationwide through exhibitions, fairs, rural and urban haats, he said. Steps have also been taken towards the evolution of climate-specific, disease-resistant, robust silk worm breeds in consultation with the Central Silk Board with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Mr Bhunia said a mega handloom cluster covering weavers of the entire Murshidabad and a part of Nadia districts has been planned for integrated development of the handloom sector in the area.

The Centre has further agreed to set up an Indian Institute of Handloom Technology at Santipur to promote the sector.

Geographical Indication (GI) registration for Dhaniakhali and Baluchari sarees of West Bengal under the GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, has been obtained.

Santipuri sarees of the State have already been allowed this rare distinction, he said.

The Minister said, in order to cater to the growing needs of skilled workers in his Department as well as to enable unemployed youth become self-employed, entrepreneurship development programmes were being conducted in collaboration with Nabarad.

Apart from these, a scheme has been drawn up for availing assistance under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna with central assistance of Rs 11.25 crore during 2011-12, Mr Bhunia said.

The Centre, along with the State Government, has taken up steps to implement a restructuring package for the handloom sector, he added.

(This article was published on July 29, 2012)
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