A SARAS Exhibition in Kashmir brought 550 self-help groups together to showcase their handmade products. Products on display included handicrafts, textiles, artwork, furniture, draperies, and other household accessories. Artisans have come from different parts of India to showcase their work.

Srinagar, July 25: The 56th SARAS Exhibition at Kashmir Haat here has pooled together 550 Self Help Groups from across India exhibiting their handmade products. The SHGs at 178 stalls in the exhibition are selling different commodities directly to the consumers.

The products range includes handicrafts, textiles, artwork, furniture, draperies, household articles, food items, goods of daily use, and much more.

From ‘Monga Silk Saris’ of Manipur to ‘Coconut Craft’ of Goa, the exhibition opens a customer to a whole range of classy and exciting items.

Pamila Gupta, Nodal Officer for SARAS-2011, said the exhibition portrays skill of people who have come from different places to participate in the event.

Vijaydatta Lotlikar, a coconut craftsman from Goa and his wife Nilam, who together run an SHG have a stall at the exhibition selling products made of coconut shell. Lotlikar, a learned goldsmith, said their skill has won them ‘international acclaim’.

“Our work features us in Limca Book of World Records for the longest lamp we made from the coconut shell,” Nilam said.

She said, “We made more than 500 different items from coconut shell including by products.”

Rafiq Tabassum, a local organizer of SARAS-2011, said the exhibition gives artisans an easy market to display their products. “Visitors choose products at the exhibition and pay directly to the artisans without the interference of middle men,” he said.

He said the rural products in the exhibition have witnessed great sale. “Several customers have made bulk orders for these products,” he said.

Kanjeng Leikai, a women SHG from Manipur, exhibits products made of Kauna, a type of reed usually grown in the wetlands and marshes. “We make hundreds of products like mats, cushions, flower vases, etc, from Kauna. It makes us independent and we can help others as well,” Indrani Devi, group leader, said.

She said over 1,000 craftsperson are engaged with this craft in the Imphal valley. “These SHGs are mostly run by women,” she said.

According to the Nodal Officer total business registered in the fair had been over Rs 37 lakh till July 23. “We hope to cross Rs 60 lakh till end.”

Makhan Bora of Assam, running a stall of cane and bamboo products, said: “My group works for days together from collecting the raw material to the finished product. We earns more than 25,000 easily.”

Local artisans
There are local participants from all 22 districts of J&K exhibiting rich art and craft of the state. The stalls exhibiting paper mache and handmade shawls attract large number of visitors.

The concept of SHGs has been developed through Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) launched on April 1 1999 as an integrated programme for self-employment of the rural poor.

The Nodal Officer said: “The objective of the scheme is to bring the assisted poor families above the poverty line by organising them into Groups through the process of social mobilisation, their training and capacity building and provision of income generating assets through a mix of bank credit and government subsidy”, she said.

To mention, the exhibition which was inaugurated by Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah on July 17 will come to end on July 27.