Tripura govt announces steps to boost silk production


In view of soaring demand for its silk in local as well as international markets, the government of Tripura, a state in North-eastern India, has decided to introduce powerlooms at the state-owned silk producing units to enhance their productivity, Handloom and Industries Minister Jitendra Chowdhury said.

Earlier, only the neighbouring states sought Tripura silk, but now there is demand even in foreign countries, the Minister said. He added that the government is emphasizing on increasing the production of silk moth and upgrading state-run production units with powerlooms in place of hand looms.

The state’s silk turnover has increased almost 100 percent this year compared to last year, which enabled the state government to earn Rs. 10 million in revenues, the Minister said.

Mr. Chowdhury stated that mulberry cultivation is undertaken on around 3,352 acres of land in the state by around 7,000 cultivators, and the state is actively trying to increase this area.

The government intends to raise production of silk sarees in government-run units from 3,969 pieces to 8,750 pieces, this year, and has also decided to boost value addition through introduction of new designs, the Minister said.

According to an expert in textile designing, increased value addition calls for preparation and application of more beautiful designs, and local entrepreneurs should be motivated on this front.

Maharashtra unveils website for new textile policy


The recently announced Textile Policy will attract investments of around Rs 400 billion in the next five years and generate jobs for around 1.1 million people, said the Chief Minister of Maharashtra – Prithviraj Chavan.

Mr Chavan said this after inaugurating the website of the new textile policy. Mr Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan – Maharashtra Textile Minister said the website will provide all information related to the policy to potential investors. 

Mr Chavan further said, “80 percent of the cotton grown in the state is sold and processed further in other states. The policy will help in adding new cotton processing capacity, particularly in the cotton belts of Vidharbha, North Maharashtra and Marathawada”. 

He also added by saying, “The investors will be provided various incentives, uninterrupted water and electricity supply”. 

Pawar writes to PM, criticises curbs on exports


New Delhi: Irked by curbs on milk, cotton and sugar exports, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that the government’s policies are hurting farmers who are being asked to subsidise the industry.

Pawar wrote to the Prime Minister on Tuesday, a day after group of ministers disallowed cotton export beyond 13 million bales for the current marketing year.

He strongly criticised Food Ministry headed by KV Thomas and the Textile Ministry under the charge of Anand Sharma for the policies which are “ambivalent” and go against farmers.

Pawar writes to PM, criticises curbs on exports

Describing restriction on cotton exports as “retrograde”, the NCP chief said: “Indian cotton farmers should not be asked to bear the burden of subsidising the textile mills.

“Compromising the interest of small cotton farmers to benefit the textile magnates is indeed a travesty of justice. Moreover, it defies logic to permit the consumer of cotton (textile industry) to dictate terms to cotton producer…”.

Similarly, he said the “negative approach” of the Food Department in allowing sugar exports has led to heavy losses in export earnings which could have been used to clear cane arrears to farmers that have crossed Rs 8,000 crore.

Pawar told the Prime Minister, “On numerous occasions I have discussed with you the need to have farmer-centric agriculture policy…On each of these occasions; I have found you in consonance with these ideas.

“However, despite this our government has time and again taken decision which goes against the interest of the farming community and adversely impacts its growth and stability”.

High input cost and low realisation from his produce has pushed the farmer into a corner where he fights for his survival, he said, underscoring the need for a free trade regime to ensure remunerative prices to farmers.

Besides Pawar, the cotton exports ban has also been opposed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Congress party’s Maharashtra and Gujarat units.

On sugar exports, Pawar said, “The negativity prevalent in the Department (of Food) regarding sugar exports can best gauged from the fact that though the decision to allow sugar exports of 10 lakh tonnes was taken on March 26, 2012, no orders regarding the same have been issued till date.”

He pointed out that the Food Department is yet to come out with any methodology to expedite sugar exports despite direction of the Empowered Group of Ministers to do away with the quota system of allocating export quantity among mills.

“We must learn from the mistake of 2006-07 and 2007-08, when we spent Rs 1,500 crore on export and buffer subsidy to bail out the sugar industry and provide succor to the sugarcane farmers,” Pawar warned.

In view of higher domestic output, the government has allowed export of 30 lakh tonnes in three equal tranches for this year. The food ministry is yet to notify the export decision for third tranche.

Pawar said that the Centre’s policy towards milk and milk products has been “equally ambivalent” and demanded opening of export of skimmed milk powder and casein.

In the letter, Pawar has highlighted that the country has produced record production of foodgrains, cotton, sugarcane and oilseeds despite rising input costs.

“For the government’s MSP (minimum support price) to cover all the costs is well nigh impossible and it is thus necessary for us to allow a free market and trade regime to ensure remunerative prices to the farmers,” he explained.

Stating that there is relentless pressure on farm sector to produce more, Pawar said, “It is imperative that we do not stymie the growth of our agriculture sector by policies which further worsen the returns to the Indian farmers.”

US: Wal-Mart launches Women in Factories programme


Wal-Mart will look to empower women working for its suppliers

Wal-mart  has today (5 March) announced the launch of its Women in Factories programme, a five-year initiative that will empower 60,00 women working in its supplier factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America.

The scheme will teach women critical life skills related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity. Up to 8,000 women will also receive leadership training to develop the work and life skills necessary for personal and career development.

The programme will be rolled out to 150 factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America over the next five years, initially launching in Bangladesh and India in 2012. The programme was designed and implemented in collaboration with CARE in Bangladesh and SWASTI in India, and will be evaluated by Northwestern University in partnership with DAI and Mission Measurement.

Meredith Menhennett, senior manager of ethical sourcing at Wal-Mart, and in charge of the training programme, told just-style that Wal-Mart will fund the programme for two years, and that after the two years, it expects the programme to become self sustaining.

“During the two years of funding that the foundation give, the first round of training will be conducted by our NGO partners, and at the same time they will be teaching and mentoring the HR team to continue the programme,” says Menhennett.

“The second round of leadership will be conducted by the factory with the active support and teaching of the NGO partners. And they will continue to have the NGO and and Wal-Mart’s support.”

While the Wal-Mart is emphasising the social benefits it expects to see through the programme, it also expects that there will be business impacts as well. Menhennett highlighted how the nutrition, programme, for example, will help to reduce illness and worker absenteeism, which will have a positive impact on the companies they’re working for.

“Empowering women not only improves their lives but it is also good for customers and business across the industry,” says Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president of Home for Walmart. “By educating and empowering women in factories and creating a stronger supply chain, suppliers realise greater efficiencies in their factories, which should result in higher quality products, lower prices and more reliable product availability for customers.”