The screw pine plants grow wild on the banks of rivers, canals, ponds and backwaters of Kerala and also serve as a natural fence. Screw pine craft is a traditional cottage industry in Kerala. The weaving of mats with treated screw pine leaf is one of the oldest crafts practised by women in Kerala for more than 800 years. It was started as an empowerment tool for women but later became highly popular due to its eco-friendly form of practice. Screw pine craft of Kerala has been granted GI registration in respect of mats, doormats, wall hangings, bed mats, and prayer mats.

The scarcity of screw pine for craftwork and the limited marketing opportunities are the major problems faced by the artisan group. The plants were thoughtlessly destroyed from the river banks, canals, ponds and backwaters. The outburst of plastic mats in the market has also added to the situation. Any programme for the revitalization of screw pine craft needs to be manifold, starting from ensuring the raw materials to bringing innovative products to creating marketing avenues. As a first step, the Parivartan programme has distributed 5000 screw pine saplings during the project cycle (2018-2019).

30 days of intensive training on making handicrafts using dried screw pine plants was held at Kottayam from February 27, 2021, to March 30, 2021. The training was held for 30 women candidates who hail from 6 HRDP villages. Primary Screwpine Societies have set up at these villages to teach, understand and market the versatile yet sustainable uses of screw pine plants (Pandanus kaida Kurz).

The training focused on making handicrafts products like doormats, floor mats, ladies bags, pen holders, baskets using dried screw pine plant leaves. These were later sold to local stores and bought by many.

The ladies have taken this knowledge to their homes who now believe that they can make something utilitarian, sustainable bringing them not only joy but also an income.

Way forward

Strengthened production systems; improved products in quality and quantity and to create a Sustainable market system