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Water Hyacinth Craft: Promoting Rural Livelihoods:

Water hyacinth (Scientific name: Eichornia crassipes;) is considered as the most productive plant on earth, as it yields more than 200 tons of dry matter per hectare per year under normal conditions. On water containing high concentrations of sewage, it yields up to 657 tons of dry matter per hectare. In NE India, water hyacinth is seen in abundance in almost every river body of NE, right from big lakes to household ponds in villages. For a long time, the aquatic plant was considered only as a waste and was either cleared up or left unused.

“The plant is far more productive than the crops that have been carefully cultivated by man under near-ideal conditions of fertilization, irrigation, and pest control,” wrote John Bunton in an article which appeared in Far Eastern Agriculture.

Basically, Water hyacinth is considered as a weed & nuisance for:

• It enhances water loss by 2.5 to 3 times due to evaporation.

• Reduction of Bio-diversity: Other aquatic plants have difficulty in surviving.

• Diversity of fish stocks is often affected from proliferation of water hyacinth.

• Sediment level increases with increase of water hyacinth.

• Source of breeding ground for mosquitoes and other parasites.

• Hindrance to water transport.

Need for Water Hyacinth Craft

• Its removal helps to conserve water and rejuvenate the environment

• Sustainable livelihood & Inclusive Growth in Rural Areas

• Raw Material is free and abundant

• Opportunity to earn as per the skill level of the artisan: - -Unskilled:- 15 paisa per piece of dry steam -Semi Skilled :- Braid & Rope : Rs. 2 to 3.5 per meter -Skilled: Finished Products with value from Rs. 40 in a coin purse to Rs. 30,000/- in furniture set.

• An ecofriendly product for the consumers

• Empowering women in rural India

Promoting Water Hyacinth Craft as a Sustainable Livelihood and Establishment of Market Linkages

A systematic approach to promote Water Hyacinth Craft as a sustainable Livelihood option, marketing linkage must be established and tracking of the growing needs of customers is also to be kept in account. Thus, the following initiatives are to be undertaken in realizing the goals of establishing a sustainable Market Linkage.

• Establishment of Common Facility Centre in all the targeted states and make it sustainable in long run

• Issue of Artisan Card to the project beneficiaries

• Preparation of Catalogue, Website & Documentation for product marketing

• Organizing 18 nos. of local, regional, national level exhibitions to promote Water Hyacinth Craft in India.

• Tie up with buyers & exporters for some selective products with large volume for which product specific training programmes will be undertaken under the capacity building component of the project. Tie up with vendors/ shops of nearby areas / locality

• Linkage with marketing organizations like NEHHDC, ARTFED as well as NEDFi showrooms and online marketing agencies.