are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
|Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge||MOST/CIRAN|
Production of organic carpetsDESCRIPTION
This is a pilot project for the production of carpets using sheep wool, cotton and natural dyes made from plants, botanicals and other naturally occurring pigments in the Northern Hills of Uttar Pradesh.
The local Bhotia people have traditionally been a community of sheep rearers. The menfolk took care of the animals while the women made carpets in their homes. The carpets were made using sheep’s wool and natural dyes from plants and other naturally occuring pigments and colours. The Bhotia also grew their own cotton, which was used to tie the wool. In recent decades, as a result of rapid industrialization, the Bhotia gradually replaced the sheep’s wool with synthetic wool, and the natural dyes with chemical dyes. The chemical dyes were easily available on the market and they had a longer useful life than natural dyes, which would fade in direct sunlight. However, the chemical dyes pollute the environment and, since most of them are Azo-dyes, they are carcinogenic. There is a large market in Europe for carpets made of natural wool and dyes.
The Society for Employment Welfare and Agricultural Knowledge (SEWAK) started a pilot project to revive traditional carpet weaving in the Kumaon Region. The prices of natural carpets are now 300% higher than those for synthetic ones.
Compared to other countries Indian carpet exports come just after Iran. Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) State is one of the major exporters of this handicraft product. Most of the carpets produced in India are made with synthetic wool and chemical dyes, which pollute surface waters and are causing cancer. There is now lot of demand for natural products on European markets. With this in mind, SEWAK started a pilot project in the Kumaon Hills of U.P. State. The people taking part in this project are using their indigenous knowledge to make natural carpets.
Economic sustainability: natural carpets sell at a higher price and therefore make more money.
Environmental sustainability: natural dyes do not pollute surface waters and are not harmful to skin or to plants.
Other types of sustainability: increased incomes for the carpet weavers will enhance the educational and general development of the next generation.
STAKEHOLDERS AND BENEFICIARIES
The main stakeholders and beneficiaries are the members of the community as a whole, and households and women in particular. Nearly 50 families are directly involved in implementing the project, producing natural carpets through the intervention of SEWAK.
STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
The natural carpets have a ready market and yield 3 times more income than the synthetic ones. They are safe for the weavers and do not contaminate the environment. The raw materials can be produced in a closed system within the community.
Since the plants and other material used in making carpets are area specific, it is difficult to replicate the model. The increase in demand for natural carpets can lead to ecological imbalance, in terms of the plants and other botanicals used as raw materials for dyes. This can be overcome by cultivating the plants required in the farmers’ fields.
IT IS CONSIDERED SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE:
The specific practice is rather difficult to replicate. The idea and method can be replicated, but would have to meet certain conditions and overcome a number of obstacles:
Replication of this craft will need the agreement of SEWAK and provisions of IPR etc. The peer reviewer mentioned that the difficulties of replicating the model can be seen not only as a weakness (see above) but also as a strength. These natural products serve a regular but small top-end market in Europe, and the problems with replication protect the interests of the weavers
Harish Chander Tewari
Organization that provided this information:
Society for Employment Welfare and Agricultural Knowledge (SEWAK)
To MOST Clearing House Best Practices on Poverty and Social Exclusion
To MOST/CIRAN Database of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge
To MOST Clearing House Homepage