Hyacinth was a headache for wetland area of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR). Hyacinth would envelope water bodies of the only wildlife reserve in Nepal which is famous for migratory aquatic birds and rare animals like wild buffalo which is known as Bubulus Arnee in scientific nomenclature.
However, of late, local women from minority indigenous community called Sardar have started making handicraft products from these 'unnecessary' plants of the KTWR. This has not only given respite to KTWR officials but also to economically backward Sardar women an additional income.
Anardedi Sardar, 60, a local woman making hand-made products like purse, bag, basket and mat from hyacinth says she makes around Rs. 600 a day.
"I can weave two small mats in a day that costs Rs. 300 each,'' said the women from Koshi Rural Municipality-3, Paschim Kusaha, Sunsari. Anardevi said she could weave a big-size mat of Rs 1600 within two days.
Similar is the tale of Rupnidevi Sardar, the leader of 25 weaving women. She said local women have been benefited a lot from weaving skills. ''All women involved in our weaving are either married or elderly women above 50 years,'' said Rupnidevi. She added, ''They are making good earning by weaving. The market is also good.''
Ramdev Chaudhary, the outgoing Chief Conservation Officer of the KTWR, which was established in 1976, said women have been greatly benefitted by materials made of wetland resources. ''I have personally advised and helped them brand their product to nearby markets,'' said Chaudhary, ''Their handicrafts items have growing demands even from Kathmandu.''
Ashok Kumar Shah, the co-coordinator of the Souvenir Shop used by hyacinth and wetlands materials locally known as Motha and Pater, is also optimistic on the handicraft enterprises.
''We have locally-made products with price range of Rs. 150 to Rs. 2000,'' said Shah, adding, "visitors of KTWR and immediate markets such as Itahari, Dharan, Biratnagar and even capital Kathmandu demand our products.''
Nepal Knot Craft Private Limited and Rotary Club Jawalakhel have supported 12 looms and revolving fund of Rs. 160,000, said Shah. ''We are yet to grow onto the full-scale handicraft enterprises. For this, we need support from all quarters,'' urged Shah.
Source: National News Agency Nepal