One of the pioneering and profitable cooperative models in the country, the Shivamogga-based Charaka Women’s Multipurpose Cooperative Society has drawn up plans to more than double the fabric production that will also provide a livelihood to more weavers.
While the society currently produces 30,000 metres monthly through about 600 weavers, it plans to scale up the production to about one lakh metres a month by additionally providing work to about 3,000 weavers over the next five years. This would make it the largest producer of handloom fabric in the cooperative sector in the country. Charaka is already the largest producer of naturally dyed handloom fabric in the country.
Demand for raw handloom
Plans to scale up production come as several fabric designers are seeking its raw handloom fabric while its retail arm Desi has also seen an upswing in demand from its patrons. The change in approach comes in stark contrast to 2020 when it for the first time stopped weaving work due to the piling up of its products as Desi was closed due to COVID-19-induced lockdown besides the earlier cascading effects of demonetisation and GST in the previous years.
“The demand for raw fabric has been increasing and hence we have for the first time moved our annual buyer-seller meeting from Heggodu to Bengaluru on Thursday. From next year, we will hold the buyer-seller meet in Bengaluru to provide convenience to designers. We intend to scale up the production to about one lakh metres of handloom fabric at Charaka,” J. Krishna, managing trustee of Desi and an activist at Charaka, told The Hindu.
Down and up again
In fact, the Desi’s turnover dropped from ₹5.92 crore in 2019–20 to ₹4.2 crore in 2020–21, a decline of about 29% over the previous year. It, however, posted a turnover of ₹4.3 crore in 2021–22, a modest 3% increase. This financial year, the turnover of Desi is expected to touch ₹6 crore. For Charaka, the turnover had dipped from ₹5.07 crore in 2019–20 to ₹2.92 crore in 2020–2021 which saw a slight increase to ₹3.38 crore in 2021–22. At the end of 2022–23, Charaka is expected to clock a turnover of close to ₹4 crore.
On the other hand, Mr. Krishna pointed out that Charaka had been flooded with demand for work from weavers. “We intend to supply yarn to weavers who are spread across several districts, and receive raw fabric from them as part of our scaling-up exercise.” Desi, which currently operates 11 stores in Karnataka, also plans to expand its retail presence in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Chennai, among others.
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