IIE project to aid eri industry

- Project covering 200 Muslim and Rabha households
Guwahati, April 14 : The Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) has kickstarted a project on commercialising traditional activities related to eri industry like eri rearing, reeling and weaving at Pyranga village in Boko area of Kamrup district.
The word eri is a derivative from Sanskrit nomenclature for castor plant, eranada. Castor leaf is the main food for the eri silkworms and so it was named eri. This is the only completely domesticated non-mulberry variety. Assam produces 63 per cent of the eri raw silk production in the country.
About 200 Muslim and Rabha households are engaged in activities relating to eri in Pyranga.The Rabhas are engaged in rearing the cocoons while the Muslims are engaged in reeling, but till now they have not been able to access the market despite the quality of eri being good.
“It is an ambitious project taken up with two diverse groups — indigenous and minority, each with its own set of competency, complementing and supplementing each other. The effort is to raise the income level of both the communities by suitable interventions like availing the benefits of different schemes to raise productivity along with design intervention and market linkages,” said K. Ahmed, IIE director.
A road has now been built for the project with the initiative of Kamrup district administration. Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE), an autonomous institute under the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises, promotes entrepreneurship in micro, small and medium enterprises through training, research and consultancy.
The market tie-up has been made for the project and Fabric Plus, a private firm, has entered into a buyback arrangement with members of the village. An entrepreneurship development camp was also held at the village.
“We have now got an assured market as otherwise we were selling at the Chhaygaon market without assured returns,” said Surendra Rabha, president of Samanay Prakalpa, an NGO, which is looking after the implementation of the project. Efforts will be made to facilitate the community in availing the benefits of different schemes aimed at promoting eri industry. A diagnostic study revealed the tremendous potential existing for commercial development of the eri silk cluster and probable areas of interventions.
The project aims to work on the competence of traditional skill and enhancement of skill and combined with empowerment, would lead to greater social adaptability without any resistance to change. A clear vision for upscaling the activities has been developed with the commitment of various related departments like sericulture, handloom, DRDA, Central Silk Board and National Innovation Foundation.
“Being eco-friendly, the backward integration planned through plantation would lead to eco-restoration through increase in green cover and also reduce soil erosion besides enhancing soil moisture content. Being an industry based on natural-symbiotic relationship, enhanced productivity will augment natural balance and not cause environmental pollution,” Ahmed said.
A special purpose vehicle will be formed for the hard interventions like setting up common facility centre that will serve different purpose of eri rearers, spinners and weavers.