CFC will boost earnings of Kinnal artisans

Arts & Culture Business

Experts say development of Common Facility Centres (CFC) could boost the production and supply making the products cheaper in domestic as well as in international markets. Karnataka has seven CFCs as of  2021 as per MSMEs report.

A common facility centre in Kinnal village, Koppal district can ease the lives of artisans. Its efficient and speedy manufacturing would meet the rising demands of Kinnal crafts and could make many financially independent, say the artisans. However, officials say the funding for common facility centre would be delayed even though the application was submitted a year and a half before.

“It is very difficult at my  age to work for days and get so little as compensation ,” said Hemamma, a 79-year-old female artisan who makes small Kinnal toys for living. She says a Common Facility Center (CFC) would make cutting and designing of wooden toys more feasible and fast and would help her become financially independent.

She added, “Usually I get Rs. 200–300 for each idol, which barely meets my expenses. If we had a CFC in our village, we would have manufactured the artefacts in bulk within a very short span using machineries for cutting and designing. This could have helped me get enough money to support myself with my health issues.”

She  further added that she is the only person left in her family after her husband’s death as she does not have children. She has no land of her own and often faces financial problems whenever she falls sick.

As per the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) cluster development plan 2019, under the Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) scheme , 36 projects of Common Facility Centers including seven in Karnataka, have been developed across the country from 2018 to 2021. However, the recent press release report also shows that between 2020 to 2021  no infrastructural development was done by the government.

Kinnal Crafts

Kinnal is a small village  in Kukanoor taluk of Koppal district in Karnataka. There are nearly 78 families in Kinnal among who 60-63 are Chitragar familes who are engaged in this handcraft. However, only a few people from these families are currently working as artisans. Kinnal art is divided into three categories: small toys and idols; furniture like mirror stands and dining tables; and big statues up to seven to eight feet. The Kinnal crafts are in great demand in other countries such as United Kingdom (UK), Canada, UAE, Malaysia, and New Zealand, and are mainly sold through online platforms. The artisans carve the artefacts, paint them using organic colours and dry them under the sunlight. The artisans use timber, cottonwood, teak and otlightweight woods.

 Common Facility Centre

A common facility centre includes a studio or design room, testing facilities, training centres, information cum trade centre, and common raw materials, dormitory for workers. It should also have proper equipment and machinery to ramp up the production process.

Problems due to lack of CFCs

Santosh Chitragar, an artisan from Kinnal, said that the Kinnal craft is a skill-based craft and it takes days to create just one wooden item. “We need proper machinery and other supporting equipment to ramp up the production process and produce in bulk. We are not able to produce enough to meet the demand,” he said. He added that at present he is providing training to villagers, especially women, to make them financially independent. But they do not have a proper space to carry out training and other activities.

“I do not have such good equipment in my house with which I can design and develop the wooden crafts  in large quantity,” said Ambika Eranna, a woman who recently completed her training for making Kinnal toys and idols. She further added that during her one-month training period, which was a government program, she used to receive Rs. 300 a day. “Getting training is not helpful if you cannot produce enough to  make a profit to support your family.” She also said that she wanted to help her husband, who was engaged in carving such crafts.

The Panchayat development officer from Kinnal village, Koppal, said, “At first, the land has to be notified for the common facility centre, and then only the funds would be allocated to the artisans by the government.” He further said that the file had been stuck in offices and the land has not been notified yet. They have put the request forward to the higher authorities; however, they were unsure how long it would take.

“It has been one and a half years since I applied on behalf of all the artisans for the financial assistance to build the Common Facility Center under the Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries.  But I have not received any reply from them on this,” said Santosh. He also said that the department of Khadi and Village Industries is making excuses for the delay.

Mr. Gopinath Rao, an official from the State MSME department,  said, “The land issue is always there, whether someone is applying for common facility centres or clusters, as it is the first requirement for the SFURTI scheme.” He also said that the process takes time as they have to go through all the aspects, such as how much land is required to build a CFC, the number of machines needed for that, and the number of artisans working over there. The funds will be allocated only after going through the entire process. But, the cost of land and some amount for the  building also has to be borne by the artisans.

“The fund allocated would have to go through the three agencies: the rural agency, the implementing agency, and the technical agency, which are all parts of the self-governing body at the district level,” said Gopinath. The Rural Development Agency manages and oversees the implementation of different anti-poverty programmes; the implementing agencies provide policy support, release the fund and monitor the implementations; and the technical agency looks after the needs of machinery, and provides technical support.

Rudresh K H, a Public Policy Researcher said that government should bring Sakala Service Act for ensuring timely services. “Either through cooperative societies or through nationalised private undertaking banking, government should make sure these artisans get loans. Lack of financial aid is the major factor, these industries are suffering at present,” he said. He added that Common Facility Centre would help them getting raw materials at cheaper price through subsidies, also the machineries would boost the production and supply in domestic as well as in international markets making them available at cheaper price.