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Revival of Palpali Dhaka Fabric Underway—for Expanded Local Jobs and Sustained Industry

The Dhaka fabric, which originated from Palpa District of Lumbini Province, holds a special significance amongst Nepalis. The industry—once vibrant and thriving—started facing a critical shortage of artisans once out-migration of workers turned biquitous. Those who continued weaving were engaged on a part-time basis, affecting the level of productivity at factories. As laborer got attracted to higher wages elsewhere, there was an urgent need to revive the industry by building a skilled artisan base and making the industry and its fabric attractive—to both weavers and emerging national and global consumers.

In 2019, with support from Finance Secretary Madhu Marasini (formerly Secretary of Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning, Lumbini Province), UKaid सीप helped catalyze and co-fund creation of the Palpali Dhaka Association (PDA) in collaboration with the Lumbini Province Government and Tansen Municipality. Apart from facing a critical shortage of weavers, the industry suffered from a ‘diluted brand’ due to oversupply of cheaper Dhaka-like foreign fabrics. Two years on, resurgence of Palpali Dhaka industry is in the works embodying attributes of a sustainable market-led skilling initiative grounded in building productive workers, expanded jobs, and growth of enterprises. To date, सीप has co-invested with nine existing and three new firms—including home-based weavers, encompassing Dalit craftswomen from Tansenmun, Matagadhi, and Tinau municipalities.

Our collective efforts are transforming the face and future of Palpali Dhaka: from new youth-friendly trendy designs; upgraded fair trade-aligned weaving workshops; skilled weavers, tailors, and technicians; expanded production capacity, and jobs, at the enterprises; new home-based and women-led enterprises to resurgence of the Palpali Dhaka brand. Several other exciting national and international alliances are underway as well. “Designed to support revival of the Palpali Dhaka industry for sustained skilling-based job creation and enterprise growth, especially for women weavers and enterprises, this partnership is effectively leveraging the power of partnerships, innovations, and skilling,” explains Stuti Basnyet, Deputy Team Leader at UKaid सीप.

This September, PDA also unveiled a new Souvenir outlet in Tansen. During the launch, accompanied by a graduation ceremony for 108 trainees, Tansen Mayor Ashok Kumar Shahi remarked, “our partnership for revival of Palpali Dhaka can prove a replicable success model. It has the potential to inspire skilling, job creation, and market expansion for other indigenous products.” “These are unprecedented times for our industry. Our efforts, and progress, despite the pandemic, are unlocking key bottlenecks,” added Sagar Maharjan, member of PDA and Ward # 6 Chair in Tansen. Catch full remarks of Mayor Shahi, UKaid सीप Team Leader Baljit Vohra, and other speakers.