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Artisan Stories: Hemp Basketmakers, India

Hemp Basketmakers, India


Our hemp braided baskets are handmade by artisans in India. It is a fair trade project that provides employees with job security, a living wage, equal opportunities and safe working conditions. The raw hemp is also farmed locally, keeping money within the rural economy.

Rajasthan is India's largest state, located in the north-west. It's one of most economically disadvantaged states in India and youth unemployment is particularly high. Despite these challenges, Rajasthan has a strong artistic heritage and handicraft tradition. It is famous for the beautiful 'Pink City' of Jaipur and 'Blue City' of Jodhpur.

Hemp


Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that is grown for industrial, rather than recreational, uses. It was one of the first plants to be spun into useful fibre around 10,000 years ago. Historically, hemp cloth was often used to make sails, and the word 'canvas' derives from 'cannabis'. Hemp fibre makes extremely strong twine that is ideal for creating durable baskets and rugs.

How is it made?


Cut hemp stalks are soaked in water to break down the non-fibrous parts of the stem, a process called 'retting'. Next, the stems are beaten to expose the fibre, which is called 'scrutching'. Once dried and combed the hemp fibres are plaited, coiled and sewn into shape by Shagihad, the master stitcher.

How your purchase improves lives


People living in rural areas of Bangladesh frequently suffer economic disadvantage due to their isolated location. Local fair trade employment opportunities mean people do not need to relocate to the cities to seek work, helping keep families together.

"I have worked here as Master Stitcher for four years. I enjoy working here because my colleagues have a good nature and it is a good working environment" Shagihad

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Image credits: Nkuku, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment