Textile ministry is looking to build on its India Handloom Brand (IHB) to remove the distress among the lakhs of underpaid weavers for which they have decided to totally exit from mass production of handloom fabric and focus on the premium segment, after fighting a losing battle with powerlooms in the mass segment for several years.

This move is paying off in not just improving the earnings of the weavers but also in terms of sales numbers of the IHB, whose perception has changed with better quality, competitive pricing and easy availability.

The ministry has spent Rs 2 to 3 crore till now on the promotion of the brand this year. It is looking to spend another Rs 20 crore in the current fiscal.

Alok Kumar, development commissioner, handlooms, said that from the time the IHB was launched, in December 2015 to March this year, it garnered Rs 15 crore. He is projecting it to jump to Rs 100 crore by the end of this year.

Mass segment space will have to be vacated sooner or later by handloom industry because the same cloth can be manufactured by private sector power-loom industry very competitively, Kumar, who is spearheading the transformation of IHB, said.

The government has undertaken to training of these weavers to upgrade their skills for high-end handloom fabrics like patola, champa silk, chanderi, ashawali silk, salem silk, uppada jamdani, kinnori shawl, kullu shawl, tangaliya shawl, kutch shawl, banarasi, etc.

Over the last 10 years, the government has taught new weaving skills with contemporary designs and reliable dyes to 80-90,000 weavers. This has pushed up their earnings to Rs 800-900 per day from Rs 150 a day. The ministry will be training another 35,000 weavers this year, kumar added.