Sunday, May 9, 2010

colours to boost Assam's Economy

Natural dye: colours to boost economy
Anupa Lahkar
Guwahati, May 8

While organic colours and natural dyes have become the in-thing for the sartorial lot, in terms of merchandising, a number of entrepreneurs in the State have realised that the North Eastern region is the home to a number of products which emanate from a major source of natural dyes and they could reap maximum benefit through its production and sale in the international market.
Chandan Keshav, an entrepreneur in the Boko area of the Kamrup rural district, who has been actively involved in the production of natural dye for the last one year claims that the many trees and their bi products growing in the North Eastern region can be a major source of natural dye and organic food colour.
Marketing his products to Canada based brand MAIWA and US based brand Big Jenny and a number of other apparel brands in the country, Keshav claims that this is one industry with massive potential for growth in the future.
“Around a hundred organic products in this region can be used to produce natural dye or organic food colour which are healthy and have tremendous demand in the global market,” added Keshab.
Natural dye has demand in overseas market
Currently around 30 youths are involved in this organic colour production which finds a good market in countries like France and Canada, and Keshav claims that this is just the beginning. “The natural dye that we produce is in great demand and every month we produce tonnes of colour which finds a ready market both in the local as well as in the international market.”
Despite low level awareness about the production and usage of natural dyes in Assam and also in India, it is noteworthy that a Canada based company MAIWA has shown keen interest in the natural dye production in the North Eastern region and has also taken initiative to train a number of people in this organic colour production which could lead to a foundation for the dye market.
According to dyeing experts many colours of dye can be derived from some of the basic commodities like jackfruit which gives bright yellow and also green tinge, marigold flower which gives a yellow tinge, sendur tree which is the source of red colour and mora tenga which gives a rich magenta shade.
Natural dye for making antiseptic garments
Noteworthy among other varieties are the special antiseptic garments which are processed with the help of neem or marigold. “These varieties of garments have their antiseptic element for a span of six months and are usually bought by countries abroad where these garments are used for babies or even expecting mothers. Also we export garment sprayed with aloe vera extracts for the young ones,” informed the entrepreneur.
What has also become evident is that the global market has decided to set up workshops in different parts of the region in order to create awareness about the cultivation, production as well as the applicability of natural dye. A workshop is likely to take place in the beginning of next year where Michel Garcia from France will display his expertise in producing natural colour. Garcia is also the founder of Couleur Garance and of the Botanical Garden of Dye Plants set in the Ch√Ęteau de Lauris, with a collection of more than 350 natural dye plants.
“Right now we are concentrating on the cultivation of Annato which is a derivative of the achiote trees and used to produce food colouring and also as flavour. Currently the world is experiencing a shortage of 4,000 tonnes of natural dye in the international market. We have planted more than one lakh saplings and in a span of a few years now we plan to go for massive production,” claimed Keshav.
With ambitious plans set for the future with massive production of reetha, annato and organic cotton in the future, the entrepreneur is confident that the industry is definitely here to stay.
(The story was published in the newspaper Eastern Cjhronicle)

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