As Odisha is a state rich in locally grown natural fibre, an intervention has been undertaken in a women artisan cluster of Baliapal Block of Balasore. The women of the region traditionally work with the local fibre called “Sabai” grass constituting an entire cluster of 550 artisans. Through a local community based organization “Adventure”, they have received intermittent and basic skill development trainings under schemes of DC Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles, GoI, and have learned to make simple products out of Sabai grass primarily for local markets. They have a basic skill level and have no exposure to contemporary designs, product diversification and market requirements. Currently the women artisans have an average income level of INR 500 – INR 1000 per month. Currently their income is meagre, and their work is part time in nature because of lack of access to regular markets. However, the women artisans are motivated to upgrade their skills and start their own income generating activities through application of traditional skills.
Sabai Grass is a raw material which holds immense potential in terms of hand crafted and environment friendly products. Because of its naturally aesthetic look, uniqueness of the natural raw material, and possibility of developing contemporary products, there is a demand for such products in national urban markets.
Thus, the project addresses capacity building and skill upgradation, design and product development and training on finishing to enable and equip them to access better markets. The goal of the project is to empower the women artisans of Baliapal economically and socially, who mostly belong to the OBC category, practicing their traditional craft of Sabai grass. The project is intensively working with a total of 100 women Sabai Grass artisans.