International Women’s Day : Grass Craftswomen Script Inspiring Tale Of Success

Bhubaneswar: Even as country is observing international women’s day amidst much fanfare, the inspiring success story of a group of craftswomen in Odisha’s Kendrapara district merits appreciation.

A group of enterprising the women grass craft makers in the district have scripted a success story by empowering themselves by their skilful hands.

With e-commerce portals evincing keen interest to market their products, they are elated with the prospect of augmentation of their income.

A cluster of villages in Baro gram panchayat lays claim to fame for weaving out dexterous crafts from wild golden grass (Vetiver zizanoids), known locally as “Kaincha ghasa”. For over 200 families in Baro, Trilochanpur and Tarando villages, these grass crafts have provided viable alternative for self-employment. With women at the forefront of this traditional craftsmanship, the ladder of standard of living is on an upswing in these sleepy villages, said General Manager, District Industries Centre, Santosh Mishra.

It’s heartening to note that e-commerce companies have begun taking note of their products for online marketing. If the online marketing initiative materializes, it will definitely enhance their sale. Consequent with the rise in sale and income growth of craftswomen, the skilful craft will receive countrywide recognition, he said.

With their nimble and dexterous fingers, these women have discovered the beauty of golden grass products ranging from hats, baskets, hand-fans, tablemats, wall-hangings to flower-pots and mats, mobile stand, pen stand, dining mat, bed light, dust bin, cap, ladies’ bag,

The marketing of the product was the major hindrances that were encountered by us. All of us engaged in craft making are quite excited after online sale offers were received by us recently. A leading e-commerce body has negotiated with us for online sale of our products. The deal is almost finalized barring some technical formalities. They have placed a bulk order of grass products like bed-light, dining mat and dust bins. All members of women self help groups who have become self reliant from this craft are now bubbling with self-confidence, narrated a homemaker Sampad Mohapatra, who heads Budhi Jagulei Mahala Samity, a women’s self-help group.

For marketing, we used to travel extensively across the State by taking part in various trade exhibitions. Our annual sale has hovered around Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakhs in recent years. We are quite optimistic that the sale might make a quantum jump in the coming days, thanks to online marketing, she added.

Rise in sale will draw more women to this craft sector. It will empower the women fir better living for their families.

“My spouse is a farmer. We were living on the fringes with the limited income accrued from the farming activities. But the golden grass crafts have transformed our lives”, narrated 49-year-old Mohapatra with a tinge of pride.

My daughter is trained graduate. I got her married to an employed man. My elder son is pursuing B-Tech course while younger son is studying graduation honours course. We have got a pucca house. We have got decent savings to meet the exigencies. Al this could be made possible after I tried my hand in grass craft weaving, she concluded.

 Damyanti Parida (40) and Surama Baral (39), who have become self-reliant through the grass crafts, also spoke on the same line.

Grass crafts were in vogue in these parts for generations. But none had taken it seriously as a profession. Everything was being done in an amateur manner. In recent years, government agencies provided us the fiscal incentives and opened the doors for the exposure of the products. Since then these women have never looked back.