Solar-powered looms boost income and safety for India’s silk weavers

(The Third Pole, 20 Sep 2023) A Delhi-based social enterprise is selling solar-powered looms to women artisans across India, aiming to promote self-reliance and sustainable practices.

Budhari Goyari is busy reeling cocoons of ‘eri’ silk in the courtyard of her two-room house in Bhaoragwaja village, in the Kokrajhar district of Assam, north-eastern India. Beside her container of silk cocoons, Goyari sits with a solar-powered reeling machine.

Goyari, a member of the Bodo tribe, a minority indigenous commmunity, is one of 20,000 women in tribal and rural areas of India who own solar-powered reeling machines manufactured by Resham Sutra, a Delhi-based social enterprise.

Before she made the switch to the solar-powered machine in 2019, Goyari would reel cocoons using the traditional manual technique of thigh-weaving, which was laborious and painful. “I would sit cross-legged to reel silk cocoons, and twist these filaments with my hands,” Goyari explains. The process caused her to develop rashes and wounds on her thighs – a common injury with this technique. “I would [also] experience pain in my back, neck, and legs daily, as I had to sit in one position for five to six hours a day.” And, as electricity supply is frequently disrupted in her village, she would often have to work in dim light, straining her eyes. 

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The Third Pole, 20 Sep 2023: Solar-powered looms boost income and safety for India’s silk weavers