Sunday, May 16, 2010

Malkha has had an easy ride in the market till now, but there are bound to be shoals and quicksands in trying to match rural production, and that too by people unused to manufacture, to sophisticated urban markets that need on-time, quality goods. To add to our problems our own organization the Malkha Marketing Trust is seriously understaffed, and still in the learning stage. In the last few weeks we have offended some of our good customers by late deliveries, and one by mistakenly delivering malkha from a set of novice weavers.

While urban customers have to juggle their deadlines and margins, rural malkha suppliers have to cope with transport strikes, the vagaries of the indigo vat, unexpected glitches in the newly minted pre-spinning machinery and the effects of 'development': The Dastkar Andhra master dyer tells us that pomegranate skin now comes from hybrid varieties which give a paler yellow than the desi. Unlike mass-production systems, malkha deals with people working independently at each stage: cotton farmers, yarn makers, weavers and dyers, all living and working in their own cycles that include seasonal variations - handweaving and natural dyeing are both affected by heat and humidity.

It's a long way to our ultimate goal of linking producers directly to buyers, and the first step is to get to know each other better.

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