With more takers, khadi products spinning their own success story

Annapurani V, Ravikanth Nandula Chennai | Updated on October 02, 2020

File photo of Khadi clothes in display.   -  The Hindu

Khadi and Village Industries reinvented itself during the pandemic to make masks, sanitisers

Khadi, the homespun fabric popularised by Mahatma Gandhi, that symbolises self-reliance and simple living, and the associated products sourced from local artisans, weavers and farmers, is in great demand these days. Numbers put out by KVIC (the Khadi and Village Industries Commission) show that production as well as sales have been rising in recent years.

With the advent of the pandemic, KVIC also began selling face masks for as low as ₹30/piece. By May, it had received eight lakh orders and had supplied over six lakh masks, as per a tweet put out through the official handle. Early last month, KVIC said that it is ramping up its online inventory. It started selling its khadi face masks online in July and its online catalogue now has a variety of products that can be purchased including hand wash and sanitisers, grocery, cosmetics, and personal care products.

“Production of khadi cloth and goods continued during the lockdown. Individual weavers continued to work from home and groups have taken shorter shifts,” says a government official associated with khadi products. “Selling the cloth and masks was not a problem as they were produced against orders. But the sale of non-mask products faced problems due to the lockdown. Most clusters have used up the unused cloth from previous production cycles to make masks along with the freshly produced cloth.”


Rural upliftment

Over the past few years, KVIC has been working towards uplifting the rural economy through several schemes including the Modified Market Development Assistance (MMDA) scheme, the Interest Subsidy Eligibility Certificate (ISEC) scheme and the Work-shed Scheme for khadi artisans.

These initiatives provide financial assistance and more market opportunities, enhance skills, and upgrade technology facilities, among other things.

The production, sales and earnings numbers of KVIC have been on uptrend for some time now. In fiscal 2018-19 alone, the overall production (khadi, Polyvastra, Solarvastra and village industries) saw a 20.9 per cent jump from the previous year — from ₹48,081.41 crore in 2017-18, production soared to ₹58,130.34 crore in 2018-19.

Likewise, the sales figures have also been strong. In 2018-19, overall sales climbed 25.5 per cent to ₹74,292.09 crore in 2018-19, from ₹59,182.43 crore in 2017-18. The earnings numbers are no different. They rose 21.1 per cent to ₹27,121.20 crore in 2018-19 from ₹22,394.20 crore in 2017-18.

Providing jobs

Providing employment opportunities has been one of the primary objectives of the Khadi and village industries.

While the total number of people provided employment rose to nearly 147 lakh in 2018-19, according to a recent blog post by KVIC, during the Covid lockdown, the flagship Prime Minister Employment Generation Program (PMEGP) implemented by KVIC saw the approval of projects during the first five months of FY21, i.e. from April 1, 2020 to August 18, 2020, soar by a massive 44 per cent.

As many as 1.03 lakh project applications were approved and forwarded by KVIC to financing banks during the said months in 2020, as against 71,556 projects during the same period in 2019.

Published on October 01, 2020

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