Cluster of villages surrounding the small town of Hiriyur (160 km outside Bangalore) constitutes the Lakkavanhally Natural Fiber Cluster. This cluster works mainly with banana fiber, which is using the remnants of a banana tree to create office, personal, and home furnishing products. Additional products are created using river grass, wool, hibiscus and other naturally available/local resources.
The formation of this cluster is one of challenges and hardships, but the strength of the women behind this work is what makes this possible. Highly committed women involved are a part of Self Help Groups, in which a group comprised of 12-15 women, who meet weekly to save a stipulated amount through the activity. The combination of the group’s savings allows them to open up a savings account and take out loans, in addition to forming a support system amongst neighbors. Not only has this activity improved their standard of living, but has also created a livelihood, sustained by the women in distress.
They collect the banana bark of the well-matured banana trees. Then the bark is split into strips and it is treated with water to make it smooth and supple. Then the pith is separated from the fiber. This fiber is hooked to the spinning wheel to make the yarn. Nine women can work on the wheel at a time. The yarn thus made is used to make banana fiber products.
Some are made in the handloom. While some are hand woven using the banana fiber yarn.