Poor villagers in Meghalaya becoming self reliant by forming cooperative

      Residents of Umklai village in Meghalaya have joined hands to float a cooperative society to become self reliant by making various products of daily use from sponge gourds which is locally available in abundance. The society was formed in 1988 with just 15 members. It has now around 52 members. The enterprise helps them to curtail their poverty. "This village is poorer in comparison to other villages, the society helps us to earn our daily livelihood," said Bantei Pamshong, Manager, Umklai Area Intergated Co-op Society. The cooperative is manufacturing and marketing a variety of products out of 'sponge gourd' locally known as Sophrew or Loofahs. Apart from scrubbers made out of Sohprew, the other products include decorative items such as key rings, pen stands, bathroom slippers and even handbags. However, the members of the society complain that, lack of financial assistance has not let them to progress more. "We are manufacturing almost 20 varied items. So we hope if government supports in this work then automatically the farmers and villager of this area will develop," said Him Syngkli, Chairman of Umklai Area Intergated Co-op Society. Workers in the cooperative earn around rupees 150 to 200 per day to maintain their livelihood. The finished products of Sophrew are sold in the markets of Shillong, and other places such as Jowai and Guwahati. These items have a price tag between rupees 75 to 145.

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