Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as water hyacinth, is an aquatic weed which was considered to be a nuisance in the plains of Assam. Today, it is effectively utilised to make eco-friendly products, providing livelihoods to rural women.
Dr. Kabya Jyoti Bora (47), a qualified veterinarian, with more than 12 years of experience in the NGO sector in Northeast India, is actively involved in the training of rural women in this activity.
Dr. Bora says that with a very small investment of around Rs. 200, anyone can engage in the making of handicrafts from water hyacinth. Dr. Bora completed his Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centres (AC&ABC) scheme training from the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP), Guwahati, in the year 2010.
After his training, he formed an association – ALPED (Association for Livelihood Promotion and Entrepreneurship Development) in 2013.
With technical and financial support from NEDFi (North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited), Dr. Bora has trained more than 100 rural women in Assam’s Kamrup district in the art of making gorgeous bags, ower vases, of ce folders and les and other products from water hyacinth.
This provides enhanced income levels and livelihood opportunities to rural women.
The training schedule developed under ALPED is of 10 days’ duration and the minimum age of candidates is 18 years. The training is completely free for rural youth and women. Financial support is provided by NEDFi. After training, the rural youth can immediately
start making these handicrafts and earn their livelihoods. “This work is less laborious than other work available in villages. Besides, women can work in their free time”, says Dr. Bora.
To make this activity sustainable and to provide support to the artisans, ALPED Assam has collaborated with NEDFi to develop market linkages for the crafts made by these artisans.
NEDFi has its own ‘Craft Gallery’ in Guwahati, the largest city of Assam, to showcase and store the products of the artisans and also has a permanent exhibition platform named ‘NEDFi Haat’ in the heart of the city, which is very popular with both locals and tourists.
Water hyacinth products are also sought after in regional and national exhibitions. Dr. Bora says, “Commitment to excellence, consistency in efforts and connecting to the right groups is the secret of success”.