Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir administration has adopted innovative ways to convert pine needles into appealing handicraft products.
Pine forests account for 16.40 percent of the total wooded area in J&K. In summers, the shedding of dry needles forms a thick mat on the ground which not only affects the growth of regeneration, but due to the slow rate of decomposition, the needles sometimes easily catch on fire, causing unaccountable damage to the environment.
To tackle this problem, the pine needle material is being used as a raw material for the creation of eco-friendly handicraft products.
“Under this initiative, we have trained around 500 women so far. They blend creativity to craft and meet the expectations of handicraft-loving customers with these products. Currently, we have 28 self-help groups comprising 15-20 women from Rajouri, Reasi, and Udampur,” Rakesh Verma, Range Officer, Sunderbani, Nowshera Forest Division told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said the groups have generated an income of around 2.5 lakh rupees within six months of its inception.
“From rural areas, many women are coming forward to learn this skill and disperse the idea of livelihood generation from chir pine needles. We have around 22 women who are trained enough to impart these skills to other villagers and are emerging as master trainers,” Verma said.
He added that they are planning to expand the initiative to other districts of Kashmir as well given the adequate production of pine needles in the region.
“Also, various handicraft products from the needles include roti box, tray with wooden base, dining mats, purses, baskets, hats, etc. These products are distinct from other handicraft items as no chemical is involved in the entire process. Also, they are quite durable and last from 15-20 years,” Verma said.
Almost no one was doing anything constructive about the pine needles. “We wanted to elevate this material and make something that had a potential for mass appeal like daily products generating livelihood at the same time. All the qualities of being eco-friendly, and biodegradable made it an excellent choice for making handicraft items,” he said.