Do you remember how mothers and grandmothers used to open up their rusted family trunks and take out those hand-knitted khaees and dariyan made from indigenous cotton? Many families used to have frequent guests and these hand-knitted heirlooms would be presented to them with such love and pride. Sadly, we are seeing less and less of that nowadays.
However, to try and revive this lost cultural heritage and tradition, Sarsabz Fertilizer recently released the second episode of its web series titled ‘Khaki Desan’. The series is based on the true story of Jugnu Mohsin, a well-recognised entrepreneur and public figure, who quickly realised the dearth of good quality local cotton and its dying breed called Khaki Desan which nobody was striving to preserve.
This latest film is part of a strategic initiative called ‘Sarsabz Kahani’, which highlights true inspirational stories of farmers passionately fond of their motherland and its cultural heritage. Mohsin sought technical assistance from the company and went on to successfully harvest the finest crop of Khaki Desan cotton to create an exceptional quality of khaddar, which is a hand-spun and hand-woven cotton cloth being used in the sub-continent since many centuries.
The story of this unique collaboration is multifaceted in many ways. Most importantly, it refers to the recent decline of cotton production in Pakistan which is detrimental to our economic stability. As per the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, the cotton crop holds a 0.8 per cent share in GDP and contributes 5.2 per cent to the agriculture value addition. Cotton also holds a 51 per cent share in the country’s total foreign exchange earnings. Despite this economic significance, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has reported that in the past 10 years cotton production has almost halved from 13.6 million bales in 2011/12 to about 7 million in 2020/21. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also reported that the crop area of cotton has significantly reduced to 2.2 million hectares, the lowest since FY82. Although in the current context, the economic survey of Pakistan for FY 2021-22 reported that the cotton crop increased from 7.1 million bales reported last year to 8.3 million bales during 2021-22. However, this gradual recovery in crop yield is still faced with many challenges. Increasing the crop yield of cotton is the need of the hour given Pakistan’s economy is largely dependent on the cotton industry and its related textile sector.
Keeping this in mind, Sarsabz Fertilizer extended their unravelling contribution and support to Jugnu Mohsin to implement this community support programme as a sustainable initiative which can re-engage and empower a community of thousands of rural women in the centuries-old craft of cotton spinning and weaving and earn a decent livelihood for their families. The company also supported Mohsin in setting up a workshop under the name ‘Haveli Crafts’ to market the final products. This way marketing of local cotton varieties and products can also help boost our foreign exchange earnings and increase export profitability margins.
– A. Jafri