Mobilizing the Ramie Grass Community in Meghalaya

The multiple dimensions of Ramie grass

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Ramie Textiles: Christian iconography (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Markets of Garo Hills

In October 1976 the Garo Hills district of Meghalaya was divided into two districts, West Garo Hills and East Garo Hills for ease in administration. A Garo village is a well-knit unit, the population consisting of one domiciled Ma’chong, which has proprietary rights over the entire land of the village or A’king. Many tribes in Meghalaya follow matrilineal social practices with their own patterns of marital relationships that interlinks many villages and communities.

Ramie Textiles: Harvesting the Ramie crop (2019-06-21) by Gami Ch. MarakDastkari Haat Samiti

In most tribal communities the menfolk are engaged in harder physical labour like house building, hunting, fishing and travel for new kinds of work.

Women look after the household and children, but spend most of their day in the fields. It is considered a community activity where all family units in villages help each other.

Ramie Textiles: Weekly farmer's market, Tura (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Tura being the central administrative town of the Garo hills area, farmers from all around Garo hills come to this weekly market with a completely organically grown produce.

Produce includes vegetables like aubergine and cabbage and fruits like different varieties of melons and the widely grown jackfruit.

Ramie Textiles: Christian iconography (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

A common sight on the compound walls on the streets of Tura are hand-paintings celebrating Jesus Christ.

Some unique graphics can be seen all over town and these walls also make a backdrop for the market on the streets.

Ramie Textiles: Farmers selling their produce on junctions of Garo roads (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

One can find farmers traveling from their farms towards frequently travelled roads, carrying their produce in bamboo baskets and finding spots on roadsides to sell their wares.

Ramie Textiles: Farmer selling his produce at the weekly Tura market (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

A popular fruit besides the jackfruit is the pineapple, used widely in local cuisine.

Ramie Textiles: Weekly farmer's market, Tura (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Besides different varieties of bananas, pineapples, a local variety of melons is widely sold in the market.

The locals use this melon to make curries and is a popular accompaniment for local rice.

Ramie Textiles: Ramie farms in Selsella (2019-06-21)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Ramie crop is grown under the shade of other trees like betel and jackfruit, growing together in the same plot of farm.

The surrounding farmers also grow millet, melon, vegetables, tapioca and rice. The produce in the entire region is entirely organically grown.

Ramie Textiles: South-west Garo Hills Farms (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Wonders of Ramie Crop

The Ramie crop project is a successful instance of community mobilization. It is a story of resourcefulness and innovation, bringing together the efforts of district officers, farmers, and weavers and even small crafts persons who try out new skills.The Ramie crop was always native to Tura and the Garo Hills region of Meghalaya and was traditionally used to make rope for fishing, nets, and ties for bamboo in construction.

Ramie Textiles: Ramie leaves pakodas- whole leaf (2019-06-22) by Tina MarakDastkari Haat Samiti

The plant is still consumed by the locals in the form of curries and snacks. Every part of the plant can be used in some way; the stalk to make fibre and the leaves for consumption.

Ramie Textiles: Fiber extracted from the decorticating machine (2019-06-21) by Ranjeng S SangmaDastkari Haat Samiti

The waste from the fibre extraction process is used for composting and for cattle fodder as it has a 16% protein content that helps give better milk.

It is also used for medicinal purposes to treat Hepatitis B, ulcers, antiseptics for snake bites and other such local remedies. Rhizomes of the plant help with relieving stomach pain.

Waste material can be used to make plywood and paper and as a media for mushroom cultivation.

Ramie Textiles: Dried Ramie fiber (2019-06-21)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The fibre extracted from the crop is the strongest and longest (up to 3 meters) natural fibre in the world. The fibre is used world-wide to make parachutes.

Besides making fabric, the fibre is also used in the Indian rupee note for strength.

The fabric made from the fibre has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It is indeed a little known, hitherto much neglected wonder plant.

Ramie Textiles: Ramie farmers of North Garo Hills- Community mobilization project (2019-06-23)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Bryan Marak, Assistant Manager, Basin Development Authority, speaking with the farmers and area officers in the Gosingpita area of North Garo hills on issues and initiatives related to the Ramie crop.

The efforts of district officers and their involvement with the local community have enabled the project of further developing Ramie grass for better use and higher returns.

Ramie farmers of North Garo Hills- Community mobilization project (2019-06-23)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Indian government was importing 1000 metric tons of the fibre per year from China. Since it was easily grown locally focused farming of the Ramie crop began.

The work is overseen by the District Horticultural officers and the Basin Development Agency of the Meghalaya government.

Ramie Textiles: Pioneers of the project (2019-06-21) by Beronica R MarakDastkari Haat Samiti

Beronica R Marak, Consultant with the Natural Resource Management, Basin Development Authority at Tura, is one of the pioneers of the Ramie crop- farm to fashion- project and works with farmers on multiple initiatives.

Ramie Textiles: Pioneers of the project (2019-06-21) by Meril N SangmaDastkari Haat Samiti

Meril N Sangma initiated the Ramie crop project along with Beronica R Marak and Mira Marak, State Consultant for Ramie and the District Horticultural Officer.

Ramie Textiles: South-west Garo Hills Farms (2019-06-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The farmers, decorticating unit operators, and local area officers at the farm and machine unit in Malchapara, Betasing, South-west Garo Hills.

This Ramie community is an example of how different sections can be brought together in development efforts that bring in technology to enhance their own traditional practices.

Ramie Textiles: Shawl (2019-06-20)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Credits: Story

Text: Jaya Jaitly, Jui Tawade
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: various farmers working on crop to fiber
Fabric Plus for textiles
Ground Facilitation: Bryan Marak, Jui Tawade
Documentary Video: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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