Tassar weavers worry over raw materials
Gopalpur weavers say prices of tassar silk cocoon, yarn and colour have almost doubled in the last one year
BHUBANESWAR: Caught between the hike in prices of raw materials and lack of income support, tassar weavers of the famed Gopalpur village in Jajpur district are a worried lot. Making things worse is the shortage of tassar cocoons this year. Weavers said while prices of tassar silk cocoon, yarn and colour have almost doubled in the last one year, they are now finding it difficult to procure cocoons to prepare yarn for weaving.
Tassar silk (locally called tassar kosa) cocoons are sold to the weavers by Odisha Cooperative Tasar & Silk Federation Ltd of Serifed as per their annual requirement. They are procured from tassar farms in Sukinda, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar. Sources said in January every year, the Serifed releases application forms for the weavers to list the amount of cocoons they would require for a year. After the weavers submit the list, cocoons are supplied to them in March.
“However, no sale announcement has been made by the Serifed this year so far. Only those under the cooperative fold are getting yarn from the Bhagamunda tassar silk park now while the rest are forced to depend on the open market,” said a weaver Govinda Das.
Tassar weaving of Gopalpur has been GI tagged since 2009. The village, home to over 1,500 weavers, has 17 cooperative societies, with each society having 100 to 250 weavers. These societies are further divided into two clusters. Besides, there are master weavers who hire weavers, and those who are working independently and some under SHGs.
On Tuesday at the second meeting of the Odisha Handloom and Handicraft Development Promotion Council, members urged the state government to bring down the price of tassar cocoon to support the weavers. Sculptor Sudarshan Sahoo who heads the council said a cocoon was sold at Rs 2 till seven months back but the price has now increased to Rs 8.
Apart from buying cocoons from Serifed, weavers also purchase silk threads from the societies. While one kg of tassar silk thread was earlier priced at Rs 5,000, it is now selling at Rs 7,500. At least 20 cocoons are required to draw 25 gram of silk thread and weaving each tassar saree requires 450 grams of thread. Besides, for reeling the yarn from the thick cocoons, 250 grams of thread (normal quality) is required. Similarly, the price of one kg of colour has increased to Rs 900 from Rs 450 within a year.
A weaver’s household gets paid on a daily wage basis ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 500 for weaving one saree depending on its quality and design. Those weaving intricate sarees like ‘Dolabedi’ get Rs 6,000 and above per saree.
“A normal tassar sarees needs five days to be woven while a Dolabedi needs 10 to 15 days. Although an entire family is involved in the weaving process, the wages are too less. The price of tassar sarees has gone up but our wages have remained unchanged since the last five years,” said another weaver Suryamani Das.
Officials of Serifed said the distribution was stopped due to the model code of conduct which was in place from January till March 28 for the cooperative elections. The distribution committee meeting has been done and supply of cocoons will be resumed soon.