Atharavu, a Netherlands-based NGO, has promised to provide Rs 50 lakh to the Chennai-based Anakaputhur Jute Weavers Association for the construction of weaving centers in the area. The weavers, mostly women, specialise in banana fiber, which is a specialty only in four countries all over the world - India, Japan, Zimbabwe and Denmark. They weave saris from the banana fiber and produce jute and bamboo fiber. The garments woven in natural fibers are of great demand abroad.
The association was once an important handloom center famous for its Madras handkerchiefs. It purchases raw materials from bulk dealers. The weaving is done in a delicate manner after a proper cleaning process. The association is mainly a women’s cluster which involves a majority of women in weaving to give them economic independence. But, so far, they have not been able to realise their dreams.
The NGO Atharavu is funded by the Netherlands government. It has promised more economic stability for women weavers by taking their products to foreign boundaries. Meanwhile Japan has agreed to provide technology transfer to the Anakaputhur Jute Weavers Association to produce banana paper. This association already produces banana fiber for weaving. It is the only society in the country to receive help from Japan to make organic paper. Members may be sent to Japan to undergo special training.