Jammu- In a major step towards the self-reliance of the artisans of Jammu and Kashmir, the World Bank-supported ''Noorbagh Crewel Artisan Cluster'' has got registered as a ''producers-owned company'', by the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
Srinagar-based ''Noorbagh Crewel Artisan Cluster'' was among many clusters developed under the World Bank funded Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP) with an objective of reviving the traditional crafts and providing gainful employment opportunities to the youth.
The artisan cluster has been issued the certificate of incorporation by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs under the name ''Nooraari Crafts Producer Company Limited'', an official spokesman said here.
He added that with the artisan craft cluster obtaining the coveted registration from the ministry, the artisans associated with the cluster now see a renewed hope in being associated with the traditional crafts of crewel or chainstitch.
About 600 artisans associated with this cluster see it as an achievement of one of the major milestones towards the development of the first artisan-owned producer company in the Kashmir Valley, the spokesman said.
JTFRP Chief Executive Officer Syed Abid Rasheed Shah said, "For the holistic development of the artisans, craft clusters under JTFRP are designed in such a manner so as to bring a group of scattered artisans under one umbrella, and to impart them with as much skill sets related to their craft as possible and also to develop their managerial capabilities."
He added that such clusters would enable them to function as sustainable and profitable artisan owned business enterprises and uplift them economically.
Shah said it is moment of pride and immense satisfaction to see the Noorbagh Artisan cluster registered as a ''producers-owned company''.
"Under JTFRP, we have also taken up the development of more clusters for different traditional crafts like Papier Machie (Zadibal in Srinagar district), Willow wicker (Ganderbal), Wool and Pashmina (Bandipore) to provide artisans skill enhancement, product development trainings and develop market linkages for their products," he said.
Shah also said its objective is to promote the sustainable livelihoods under the traditional cottage industry sector.
Shaheena, a divorcee with two kids, said she was totally dependent on her relatives financially, but after having received the skill enhancement training at the Noorbagh artisan cluster, she was now able to earn Rs 800-1,000 per day.
Another artist Maimoona, associated with the cluster, said, "I had given up the craft owing to its diminishing economic returns and exploitation of the middle men. But, after having received training in the product development, I see lot of hope in the craft."
She said the training makes artisans aware about the latest design trends in the market and also with the assured market support for products.
The artisan cluster, which is now in its third year of existence after initial skill assessment of the artisans associated with the crafts of crewel and chain stitch, has been focussing on imparting the artisans with the skill enhancement in product development, latest colour schemes, and utilisation of newly developed good-quality raw materials, among others, the spokesman said.
He said JTFRP has engaged the services of a consultancy for the development of the crewel and chain stitch cluster at Noorbagh. The consultancy has been tasked with the responsibility of developing the capacities of the artisans in all the aspects of skill development, developing managerial skills, and developing market linkages for their products, among others.
A significant aspect of the cluster has been the developing of market linkages to the craft cluster for marketing of its products. For that, the consultancy has been set a target of providing the cluster with the business of at least Rs 1 crore. To this end, over the last one year, the Noorbagh cluster has produced and sold products worth around Rs 30 lakh, the spokesman said.
He said they are currently working on the consignment of products for FAB India and are also negotiating with furniture giant IKEA group for marketing of its products.
Besides being instrumental in the revival of crewel and chain stitchcrafts, the craft cluster at Noorbagh, which comprises women in majority, has also become an agent of social change, the spokesman said.
He said the women associated with the craft cluster now see themselves as the self-reliant and contributing members of the society.
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