100 Mile Economies : Case-studies from Gujarat

A conversation around the potential and challenges of building place-based value chains today – 29 May 2024


Ghatit Laheru, Director, Khamir
Madan Meena, Director of Adivasi Academy, Chotta Udaipur and Trustee, Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Vadodara
Nilesh Priyadarshi, Founder, Kaarigar Clinic
Moderator: Surucchi Khubchandani, Curator, ‘CraftxClimate’ Series by Creative Dignity

In the webinar “100 Mile Economies: Case Studies from Gujarat,” we explored the potential and challenges of building place-based, self-sustaining value chains today. We focused on how age-old traditions and the symbiotic relationships among production communities—ranging from farmers, ginners, and spinners to weavers and dyers—can be preserved and revitalized via market opportunities and material transactions.

This exploration is crucial against the backdrop of modern supply chains, characterized by increased physical distances between raw materials, processing units, production facilities, packaging, and markets. Moreover, there is often a disconnect between traditionally rooted skills and contemporary opportunities, leading many generational artisans to migrate to cities. This migration distances them from their organically nurtured skills, eroding the dignity and pride associated with their crafts.

In understanding this narrative, Ela Bhatt’s Anubandh has been referred, whose ethos is following connectedness between a region, its-micro-climate, land, living systems, people and market. Potential of local-hyper activity is well recognised in the global and local food universe, celebrated and consumed as the farm to table, or farm to family coinage. Globally discourse around soil to stitch and new textile economies like Rebecca Burgess talk about them through Fibreshed. However, its translation in the handloom and handicraft sector today needs much more work in terms of operation, logistics and market.

The role of civil society organizations like Khamir in Kutch as catalytic entities is vital for resource and skill mapping, leading to the reinitiation of indigenous materials within a bio-region. By revitalizing kala cotton and desi oon (indigenous wool), Ghatit Laheru, Director of Khamir, highlighted not only the potential for social and economic progress within the community but also the ecological restoration of the region’s land systems. The revival of the native value chain included reintroducing essential processes such as natural dyeing, establishing a yarn bank, and bringing spinning activities to Kutch from Saurashtra. This revitalization led to higher wages for weavers working with kala cotton and increased demand for this breathable fabric within the Indian design community.

Kala Cotton from Kutch. Image Credits : Khamir

The learnings were thereafter applied to wool value chain which is a heritage material, a coalescence of the pastoralist lifestyle of Maldharis (an umbrella name for all pastoralists in Kutch) and the arid micro-climate. Patanwadi, the local sheep of Kutch is treasured breed and prized for its wool and sturdiness, whose wool is produced with minimal environmental impact, requiring fewer resources and promoting biodiversity.

Another similar initiative, though smaller in scale, but agile in its aim and intent is the recent Kasota loin loom revival in a lesser known Chotta Udaipur district, 110 kms ahead from the city of Vadodara. Started as a revival attempt by Bhasha Academy under the leadership of Madan Meena, it has shaped into something bigger that has been able to catalyse reverse migration and re-connection of the weaver community with their generational craft. It is a site of gender stewardship with women becoming first-generation weavers along with activation of a hyper-local economy encompassing re-introducing farming of indigenous cotton, plant-based dyes, spinning, weaving, hand-stitching to local sales at premise of Bhasha Academy, Vadodara.

Ratanbhai Vankar, the pioneering weaver of this project who returned to his ancestral weaving profession, recently won the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Martand Singh Memorial Award. In a period of 4 years, the project is self-sustainable and providing income to 10 artisans and farmers.

Nilesh Priyadarshi, Founder, Kaarigar Clinic shared the product development journey of The Local Gift Box, an initiative shaped during the Covid-induced lockdown to create a sovereign supply chain amidst raw material shortages and market disruptions in Kutch. It was showcased on KBC and Shark Tank India 2.

Image Credits : Ahmedabad Mirror

Additional reference material:

Khamir’s Wool Value Chain

The Renewed Thread of Kasota Weaving

Spotlight on Kasota Weaver Ratan Vankar

Pabiben Rabari and The Karigars Hall of Fame


Creative Dignity’s “CraftxClimate” initiative aims to position the crafts sector at the forefront of UN SDG 12 ‘Responsible Production and Consumption’ through issue identification, knowledge sharing, capacity building, and advocating sustainable solutions. Join us as we explore climate-resilient growth paths for handmade businesses together! Our exciting lineup of conversations and masterclasses with industry experts focuses on crafting a sustainable future.