Rayavaram in Guduru mandal of Krishna district has become a mute witness to the dwindling number of handloom weavers. From nearly 400 a decade ago, there are barely a 100 now. The improvisation by some progressive weavers by incorporating Pochampally flower motifs in saris and weaving fabric meant for shirting and women’s dress material has not helped the cause much, as the income prospects, which still remain meagre, have kept the young generation away from the art of weaving.
According to the Rayavaram panchayat authorities, a majority of the over 2,500 people from the weavers’ community were associated directly or indirectly with the craft, but poor access to market and low returns had reportedly forced most of them to quit the ancestral profession and go in search of other employment avenues. “It’s disheartening to see many of our fellow weavers turn into agricultural and construction workers to eke out a livelihood. Even my two children [boys] do not wish to learn our art,” Kandula Rama Krishna, a weaver, told The Hindu. In his 40s, Mr. Rama Krishna and his wife Siva Parvathi are still dependent on the art, which they have inherited from their parents.
The couple manage to weave a pack of six saris a week, earning barely ₹2,000 in a system in which an investor provides yarn and other input cost. The same pack with Pochampally flower motif fetches ₹3,000 in a weavers’ co-operative society. “Neither of the two marketing systems, the master weaving and the co-operative society, offers an income that compensates the labour which goes into weaving a sari,” says Ms. Siva Parvathi.
With falling incomes and standards of living, sarpanch T. Srinivas sees no hope of a revival of the art. He had brought the plight of the weavers to the notice of a high-level State government team which visited the village during May-end.
“Our field visit to Rayavaram is a humble beginning to connect them to a better marketing chain apart from bringing in more innovation in product and skill development through the State and Central government wings,” says A.P. Bhavan Resident Commissioner Arja Srikanth.