REEDS ACTIVITES
We present with immense satisfaction and pride the 11th Annual Report of our organization, “The Rural Environmental enterprises Development Society” popularly known as The REEDS in all our areas of operations in the States of Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh U.T., Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Since its inception our organization has committed itself to working towards fostering a better understanding of the social issues that influence mankind and behavior in the fields of basic health, education, economic empowerment, skill up-gradation and human resource development through interventions for women, children and the marginalized populations.
In a world torn by strife, terrorism, wars, AIDS and natural calamities, the REEDS has continued to shine forth as a brave little earthern lamp. As many scoffed and questioned the validity of a tiny diya before the Mighty sun, it’s reply has always been, “The great golden orb does his duty of lighting the world while we the components of a small and humble earthernware diya do our duty day and night – spreading our shiny rays and into the dark nooks and crannies of human enterprises, human errors, human resurrection and redemption.
Working in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as well as Chandigarh U.T., on issues of health, planning, women and child development, socio economic empowerment, social welfare, capacity building through enhancement of skill sets and the promotion of rural enterprise in all phases, the REEDS has become a recognized name in many a rural household.

Cluster Development Under SFURTI-KVIC:-
The REEDS team steadily progressed along with the prescribed parameters of SFURTI attempting to attain tangible and intangible results. The achievements of the REEDS Wooden Handicrafts cluster are detailed under the prescribed heads of common Faculty Centre (CFC); Product Design (PD); Market Promotion (MP); AND capacity Building (CB).

Awareness Camps:-
Work progressed rapidly among the artisans of the cluster as they participated in a series of awareness camps. These camps covered 11 villages and had more then 600 participants. The resource persosns who addressed the participants in these camps were Mangers of local bank branches, the DC, Hoshiarpur, Director, Handicrafts, and representatives of the local Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). During these awareness camps the artisans were apprised of the many beneficial schemes of the government that were aimed at helping the artisan overcome his circumstances.

SHGs:-
As a result of the second round of awareness camps the artisans and their families came forward to form themselves into Self Help Groups (SHGs). The village women were desirous of picking up skills that would help them become socio-economically empowered. The REEDS team gave them the necessary training on book-keeping, record-keeping of their groups activities as also their need for having a saving account, Inter loaning and obtaining a loan from their bank were subsequent steps about which the SHG members were apprised. In all 11 SHGs were formed. Some were of only men, some were made up of only women and some SHGs were mixed and made up of both men and women.

Training:-
The Master craftsmen among the artisans were asked to impart training on specific aspects to other artisans. Some of the areas of skill building were finesse in artistic rendition of designs, creation of newer designs, experimenting with different products dimensions. Creating quality control parameters and adhering to them, as also the introduction of newer techniques and value –addition measures. There were three batches of 15 trainees each with each of the three Master Craftsmen who worked for about three to four weeks with each batch of the trainees. These training were in both the inlay and lacquer wood work techniques. All the trainees then went back to their units and had their learning imparted further to artisans in their groups.

Exposure Visits:-
Sixteen artisans and four members of the REEDS team went to Jodhpur and Jaipur in Rajasthan on an exposure trip. The travelers went to the national Institute of Design. The artisans were quite impressed with the machines they had seen and wanted to install atleast a double side planner which had been imported from Taiwan.

Machines:-
Details of the machines were obtained from the NID personnel along with the suppliers of these machines which were to be ordered. The firm HBR Consultants, based in Bangalore helped get the quotations and was instrumental in handling all forms of paperwork regarding the import of the required machines from Taiwan. However, the smaller machines tools were also examined by the Cluster members in several trips made to manufactures units in Batala, Amritsar and Ludhiana and the necessary orders placed.

CFC:-
The Common Facility Centre or CFC was another story of luck and God’s favour to the REEDS. In Boothgarh village the Tourism Department, GOI has constructed a Handicrafts Centre which the district administration intends giving to the cluster. An MoU has been drawn up and will be signed by the district administration, Hoshiarpur the Director KVIC and the IA, The REEDS. Once the MoU is signed and the machines are installed a formal inauguration of the Centre can be looked at.

Market Promotion:-
Keeping an open mind to working with the rural populations in all spheres of activity The REEDS team expanded its operations into the fields of market promotions for its artisans concentrating its creative ability into the compilation of a catalogue, website and a documentary. We also collected the life histories of artisans who had laboured hard at wooden handicrafts all their lives but had to die in utter penury due to their exploitation at the hands of middlemen and the increasing burden of debt. We, at the REEDS have collected these stories and intend presenting them in the form of a coffee table documentation (with help from the KVIC, no doubt) that would showcase the exquisitely beautiful products of the artisans internationally.
This year the REEDS team has worked tremendously towards boosting the sales of the Wooden Handicrafts products. This has been done through the launching of the website dedicated exclusively to the wide range of products available. Work was also taken up to collect the case studies of master craftsmen. A documentary was also taken up to ensure that the opinion and voices of the artisans are recorded for posterity. Simultaneously, work was also begun on a catalogue for ensuring a wide circulation among those appreciative of the arts. Some headway has been made on launching the cluster on a B2B portal so that sales can be affected spontaneously.
Tie-ups are also being taken up with I-Byte for formalizing an ERP set up whereby the artisan units are linked directly to the CFC and centralized inventory, order taking, production, stock and delivery of products mechanism can be put in place.
Another proposal being looked into is the documentation of the products and the master craftsmen in a coffee table publication for which professional photography will be required. In case the proposal comes through the REEDS team will initiate work on this project with immediate effect.
Another aspect of market promotion is the many melas and expositions in India and abroad in which the Cluster members have participated. At many times the REEDS team has been simultaneously represented at a member of forums. The REEDS team has established its own special circle of exposition experts who have the entire routine of obtaining stalls/space creating selective banners and have mastered the art of stall décor. This team has been dedicated to ‘Kirat, Karr, Kudrat’ or K3. They launched their exhibition, in Chandigarh and held two opposite Hotel Mount View, Chandigarh’s premiere five star hotel property. The response was excellent.
Similarly the REEDS Cluster has participated in the Dandia Festival at Kalagram, under the auspices of NABARD. It has participated for the second consecutive year in the International Trade Fair (ITFT) at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi NCT and for the first time in an international trade fair in Guangzhou in China. These fairs were instrumental in making several new contacts and also fulfilling orders of new clients. The buyers-sellers meets were most useful in giving exposure on international markets. The Guangzhou experience showed how well appreciated the work of the artisans was. Some inroads were made into concretization of tie-ups with the Sindhi lobby at Guangzhou. It is hoped that a large number of orders of high volume and monetary interaction may emerge from the dialogue opened up at the Embassy dinner forum in Guangzhou, China.
The REEDS Wooden Handicrafts Cluster also participated for the first time in the first ever International Exposition held in Amritsar, the Pitex 2008. it was a great success and enjoyed tremendous national and international footfall.
Other exhibitions and melas in which the REEDS team was participating in are Phagwara; Chandigarh; Mohali; Saras Mela, Mumbai; Magh Mela, Allahabad; Dilli Haat at Delhi and finally Hoshiarpur. For the first time, the Cluster organized a festival at Hoshiarpur for showcasing the entire range of products. In Chandigarh the products are gradually getting appreciation and demand generation.
After all these expositions the status with the cluster is that there is over whelming demand all around for our products.
With inputs of design from the experts drawn from NIFT, NIIFT and design houses of Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh and also suggestions given by the clientele appreciating our products at various platforms, the cluster is making raped strides in making products.
The monopoly of the shopkeepers was gradually being broken as the artisans have begun building up their own stock along with working on a daily wages basis for the shopkeepers who were earlier artisans and have now set up their own shop in ‘Dibbi bazar’, the main market for inlay and lacquer woodwork in Hoshiarpur. But these days the monopoly of the shopkeeper is being gradually broken and the artisans are contributing to the cluster stock holding as a whole.

Research/Studies and surveys: -
Upholding its academic interests in learning about changes that impact society, the REEDS has always been at the forefront with the latestest as well as the classical tools of empirical research.
Conducting the village level planning exercise in Kurukshetra district for Haryana government gave the REEDS team broad based experience on amassing useful date, analyzing it and further presenting at various level i.e. for those for whom it was being planned, for the implementation agency, for the stakeholders as also for those monitoring the process of planning and implementation.
Furthering this objective the REEDS collaborated with MICA (Mundra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad) to conduct a study on ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) among school, college and management Institute students their teachers and also their parents. The entire survey was coordinated of the REEDS team at Head Quarter and at Garhshankar, Bassi Daulat Khan, Maruli Brahmna and Manauli. The management students of UBS (University Business School) Punjab University also participated.

Capacity Building :-
1. Foreign Trade – A three days Training programme on Foreign Trade was attended at the International Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi at the behest of the KVIC, by Dr. R. Lamba, Executive Director, The REEDS Wooden Handicrafts Cluster Hoshiarpur. This was an excellent opportunity to understand the documentation processes involved in the export and import of handicrafts globally. Interaction with the CEO and Director, Marketing and IT brought newer insights. This opportunity was also taken to form and process for registration a consortium, names ECO-KVI which would become an EPC at a later date Dr. R. Lamba was nominated Coordinator (North Zone) for the consortium.
2. Hazardous Waste & E-waste Management – Another capacity building inputs Waste and training programme on Hazardous Waste and E-waste Management held at the behest of the ministry of Environment and Forest and was organized by ASSOCHAM at Gurgaon. This could be the harbinger of several new programmes on advocacy and awareness generation on the subject in urban and rural areas of the area of operations of the REEDS.
3. NGO Management – The REEDS team also participated in a programme of NGO Management organized by the YMCA at Jai Singh Marg in Delhi. This programme would go a long way in establishing inroads for contact networking among other NGOs and also insertion of quality control measures where required.

LIC:-
This year the REEDS workers were trained on the delivery of information by a special wing of the local LIC. The field workers as well as office staff of the REEDS underwent 18 hours of training on the specialized LIC tools for low income groups. The necessary software for processing and follow-up was loaded onto the Head Quarter computer. The ‘Specific persons’ who would be selling the insurance products were trained and given the requisite material for pursuing the objective of providing insurance cover and the habit of minimal risk coverage to the ordinary man.

ATMA:-
The REEDS is on the Technical Advisory Committee of ATMA. The Agriculture Technology Management Association of Mohali district. This year, the REEDS proposed and initiated an initiative for recycling waste and provision of alternative energy outputs to the rural population. This proposal was very well received and the REEDS experts were invited to formulate a programme of advocacy.
The REEDS experts proposed the initiation of awareness meetings on utilization of biomass available in agricultural waste for the making of fuel components that are high in calorific value – in the form of briquettes. This is part of the initiative taken up in village Siau of Mohali district.

Briquette making :-
Six Self Help Groups are being nurtured in Mohali district in villages Siau and Patton where the women can be trained to make briquettes from biomass generated from agricultural waste.
The Nishant Bioenergy Pvt. Ltd had joined hands with the REEDS under the umbrella of the Rural Innovative Fund (RIF) sponsored by NABARD.
During the year several meetings were held with the stakeholders i.e. the rural women who were to be the makers of the fuel or the briquettes and the end-users or the users of the Earth stove manufactured by Nishant Bioenergy Pvt. Ltd.
There were several experiments conducted with briquette making machines and finally the one that promised maximum output and socio-economic sustenance for the rural women was selected. With the help of Mr. Ramesh Niboria, a highly awarded talented and experience rich personality a place was located to install the machines. Necessary power connection was done and the place spruced up to provide seating space for the women making the briquettes. It would also house the Godown for raw material as well as the finished products. The office of the SHGs and their book and records will also be housed here. The instruments for weights and measures will also be placed here. This initial briquette making centre will be upscaled and replicated in many other areas to help uplift the socio-economic status of rural women Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir besides other states.
Small Grants Programme (SGP:-
Mr. Bedi, the Northern Coordinator for the programme visited the offices of the REEDS and gained insights into the working of the organization. He was very encouraging and asked the REEDS to participate in the SGP. He equipped the REEDS team with necessary information to participate in the programme. He was convinced of the REEDS providing the human face to the commercialized stove making and encouraged the project to be upscaled.

NIFT, Delhi Tie-up:-
The REEDS has entered into several tie-ups with the several tie-ups with the National Institute of Fashion Technology. The contribution of the students of the NIFT in the form of design inputs for the Wooden Handicrafts Cluster. The workshops on design were held under the master craftsman, Mr. Rupan Mathru (for wooden inlay); Mr. Ram Parkash (for lacquer work) and Mr. Tirath Singh (for both lacquer and Inlay work).
Forging a long-lasting relationship with NIFT, the REEDS has asked the Director NIFT to have student excursions programmes and projects in the areas of activity of the REEDS to promote facilitation and creative inputs for the artisans.

Geographical Indication (GI) :-
The REEDS has gone in for Geographic Indication certification for some of its products like inlay and lacquer work in the field of wooden inlay. The organization has also taken the GI for Punjabi Jutti.
The REEDS has also tied up with the NIFT for conducting a diagnostic study of hand embroidery-among rural women of Mohali district. This is being done to study the feasibility of formation of a cluster of other women adept in hand embroidery. Living in the villages of Majri to Derabassi.
This is one of the areas where the REEDS would like to develop networks of isolated rural women and form them into lucrative cooperatives for production of household utility goods. This would probably take the whole of next year with inputs from the entire the REEDS team. This is the kind of large scale networking which has been successfully conducted by SEVA and it is this model that the REEDS team shall attempt to replicate with local addenda.
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