Shaukas, also known as Bhotias, a unique, tribal community of Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts were part of the thriving Indo-Tibetan border trade before Tibet was taken over by China. This made them increasingly dependent on spinning and weaving, a traditional craft they practiced to process animal fiber for their use and commerce. Though many families rely entirely on a meager income derived from hand spun and woven wool products, many are abandoning this craft in search of a more viable livelihood option.
Bora Kuthalia, another agrarian community working with processing hemp fiber, traditionally grown in these valleys, is abandoning this craft because of ambiguous legal framework around cultivation of Indian hemp.
We have worked with both these communities to make this craft a more remunerative work and provide alternative fibers such as silk and wool. Over the past few years, our involvement with Bora Kuthalia community has increased significantly.
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