JHARSUGUDA: Even as making and selling hill brooms is a cottage industry in Jharsuguda district, those involved in the process are worried over the returns it offers them. Although the brooms are much in demand and sell above `20 per piece in the open market, the women engaged in the trade get less than `10 a piece.
Women of almost all the blocks in the district are involved in collection of hill broom grass (Thysanolaena maxima) and making brooms.
The wild grass, which grows over a vast expanse of land in the district, helps women to contribute to family income seasonally. At the advent of winter, they source wild grass from forests. Back home, they dry them and knit it into long pieces which are then tied up as brooms.
These brooms are popular in the region and one can find at least one piece in every home. Since it is difficult to get it round the year, people buy it in bulk and store it. While some women move from house to house in various localities and sell it at `20 to `30 per piece, others sell it to traders.
Although many women prefer to sell it directly to traders instead of moving around with head load of these brooms in the market, the amount they earn is too less considering the toil they put in. The traders offer them ` 7 to `10 even as they sell a broom at `20 to `25 in the market.
Janani Kisan of Junakelenda village in Kolabira block of the district said that since the trade is not lucrative, it does not interest her anymore. However, she is forced to make the brooms as it is her only source of income.
In tribal dominated Kolabira block in the district, broom collection and processing is an important source of livelihood.
More than 3,000 families are engaged in cutting grass and making brooms, though in unorganised sector.
Khati Kisan of Junakelenda village in the block has been making the brooms for the last 40 years. She said had the State Government opened a counter for procurement of brooms and developed marketing facilities, they would have earned more. “It would have also ensured us fair price,” she added. Similar was the view of Basu Kisan of Churupada village. He said even though prices of other essential commodities are increasing, the price of brooms has remained static.
With industrialisation being given priority, this cottage
industry is on a downslide although its contribution to the rural economy of the district cannot be ignored.