Six young girls from a fishing community in Assam has all the praise for developing a biodegradable and compostable yoga mat from water hyacinth, the water plant that otherwise is a nuisance.
The girls live on the fringe of the Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake in west of Guwahati city. The lake is a Ramsar Site and a bird wildlife Sanctum. This water body was a source of livelihood for nine villages but over the years covered by water hyacinth.
SUSTAINABILITY OF DEEPOR BEEL
The innovation could contribute significantly towards the environment and sustainability of Deepor Beel and ensure local livelihood. The mat “Moorhen Yoga Mat” will soon be introduced to the world markets as a unique product.
The intervention was triggered through an initiative by North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach NECTAR) an autonomous body under Depart of Science and Technology (DST).
The concept for making use of water hyacinth’s properties and functional requirements of a product like a mat was ideated as a means to provide multiple ecological and social benefits
The mat developed through fibre processing and technological interventions could improve the aquatic ecosystem of the wetland through removal of water hyacinth. It also helps in sustainable production of utility products with community engagement. It will also generate livelihood for indigenous communities to become completely Atamanirbhur.
The collection, drying and preparation of water hyacinth before using it for weaving is most important process. As such, they introduced small interventions of technology like ‘solar dryer’. This reduced the drying time to about three days. The women wove water hyacinth using traditional Assamese loom. About 18 women from three fringe villages (Keotpara, Notun Basti and Borbori) wove the mat.
“7WEAVES”, (sister concern of Simang Collectives) team provided expertise on natural dyeing from locally available natural materials of Loharhat Forest Range in Kamrup District. This enabled NECTAR to include naturally dyed cotton yarns from lac, onion skins, iron and jaggery, in various patterns for the mat. They changed several loom equipment to adapt to the woven structure of the mat.
The “Moorhen Yoga mat” gets its name from Kam Sorui (Purple moorhen, a resident bird of Deepor Beel Wildlife sanctuary).