SHILLONG, November 8, 2018: The School of Livelihood& Rural Development (SLRD) has ramped up its activities with the acquisition of the largest apparel and garment manufacturing unit in Meghalaya.
Located at Hatisil village near Ampati, the district headquarters of South West Garo Hills and covering an area of 45,000 sq. ft., the unit was originally set up at a cost of approximately Rs. 14.26 crore, by the Ministry of Textiles of the government of India under the North East Region Textiles Promotion Scheme (NERTPS), an umbrella scheme for the development of various segments of textiles, i.e. silk, handlooms, handicrafts and apparels and garments.
However, the factory remained idle for a year and a half while the two different agencies that the unit was allocated to in that duration failed to meet their commitment to start production.
It was hoped that that the Centre would soon bring about economic development by creating employment for at least 1500 people of the region after its establishment, the dream has only come closer to being realised with the acquisition of the unit by SLRD.
SLRD recognised the potential of the manufacturing unit in achieving its own aims of rural development and actively worked on acquiring the factory.Where other bidders did not consider it a feasible business venture, SLRD was left standing as the only applicant. As of today, under SLRD, production work has finally begun and will be ramped up in sages to meet the market demand.
“Most skill development initiatives have not resulted in sustained livelihoods due to absence of a market linked approach, monotonous products and uncompetitive pricing. The apparel factory has the required infrastructure to initiate manufacturing activities for apparel and accessories which will link with our other interventions in weaving and embroidery. The entire activity was initiated to ensure sustained livelihoods on an industrial scale,” said Abhijit Sharma, Mission Director, SLRD.
The sprawling centre has three units, two of them housing 105 sewing machines each, and the third one having seventy machines. This would not only require skilled individuals to operate machinery but also people for various aspects of productions, packaging, and market linked activities.
The centre was inaugurated early in 2017 by Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani, former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju.
The project was an example of the convergence of efforts of Central and State Governments and was aimed at affecting economic growth in the area.
SLRD was finally awarded with the project in September 2018 due to itsactive participation, and experience in rural livelihood. Through this initiative, SLRD hopes to take Meghalaya to an industrialised category.The set-up of the factory comes at an ideal time with the presence of international market in neighbouring Bangladesh, as it offers a great opportunity in forging business partnerships with investors of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the unemployed semiskilled youth of the region serve as a ready workforce only with the requirement of advanced training to operate the state of the art machinery present at the unit. The activity can also potentially develop existing sectors such as like sericulture and weaving complementing them by creating a demand for woven fabric, particularly where the government and different agencies have spent years on training weavers.
SLRD itself is active in the weaving sector with its weaving and handloom centres which currently engage 300 women providing them a sustainable livelihood option. The centres are equipped with facilities for Designing, Hank Dyeing, Warping, Jacquard Weaving, Fabric Finishing and Sewing which make it sustainable in long run.
Initially, SLRD is looking at catering to local consumers and armed forces, and later venture out to national and international markets. Packaging and finishing of products will also be supported by SLRD adding to the number of locals employed. About 300 individuals were looked at being absorbed immediately and the numbers are expected to grow to 2000 artisans by the time production goes to maximum capacity.
“Rural life in Meghalaya is full of opportunities untapped – some more than other. I was extremely delighted to see the SLRD team working in South West Garo Hills District. They have a plan, they have proven it to be successful in other areas of the country and they are pretty focused on getting this right here as well. Ultimately, this shall increase the average per capital income of the family in a proud manner. Many women have actively taken part in various initiatives with a hope. I am sure the hope will be sustained by such efforts,” Deputy Commissioner, South West Garo Hills District Ramkumar said.
The Apparel and Garment Making Centre was set up as part of a landmark initiative announced by the Prime Minister NarendraModi in Nagaland, on 1st December, 2014.
The Prime Minister had announced that an Apparel and Garment Making Centre shall be constructed in all North Eastern states. Each Apparel and Garment Making Centre set up under the initiative is estimated to generate direct employment for 1,200 people.