APCO- Empowering Artisans Since 1976
The love for handlooms is never-ending and the fascinating art has a vibe that is more than meets the eye. Handlooms have been a part of our cultural heritage for generations, and the skilled artisans and families have dedicated themselves to keeping the traditional art form alive. The glorious art of handloom weavers is flourishing and appreciated by the few-many avant-garde, who, despite the global outlook, have an aesthetic sense deeply rooted in tradition. Regardless of how beautiful handloom art is, artists are having difficulty marketing and gaining input. To embrace the traditionalism rooted in the artistic heritage of Andhra Pradesh and to empower the weavers in every way possible, the Andhra Pradesh government has set up APCO for the upliftment of the handloom community which has been strenuously working for 46 years.
APCO has come into force with the ethos of reviving the fading handloom structure of our state. In order to achieve the dream of handlooms flourishing, APCO is supporting the livelihoods of a number of weavers and artisans working under 1052-Primary Weavers Co-operative Societies. The aim is to bring handlooms back into vogue and entice you to start an everlasting worship of handicrafts. The purpose is intended to preserve the authenticity of weavers’ craft and increase awareness of the tremendous labour-intensive process that is involved in making the treasures. By providing the necessary support and commitment to empower them financially, this would enable them to carry forward their unique skills without the need to seek alternative employment, at the same time providing a global presence for ancient traditional weaves of Andhra Pradesh.
Gone are the days when handlooms were assumed merely as connoisseurs’ treasures or as outdated costumes. The handloom weaves are now based on the principles of sustainability and environmental friendliness all the way, taking fashion forward with tradition intact. Handlooms are now, in many ways, a fashion symbol that has both the appeals of tradition and contemporary styles played in with creative experiments.
The handloom societies in Andhra Pradesh are organised as a two-tier structure, with the primary societies at the village level called Primary Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Societies (PHWCS) and the APEX Society at the state level called A.P. State Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Society Ltd. (APSHWCS), popularly called APCO.
The APEX Society is managed by a Board of Management comprising 31 Directors representing each of the 23 Districts, a representative of APCO and seven official Directors including the Managing Director as Ex-officio Director and Vice-Chairman. The term of the elected Managing Committee is 5 years. APCO has 10 Divisional Marketing Offices in all major districts with a total support staff of 466 employees. 1136 Nos of Primary Weavers’ CO-operative Societies and Mutually Aided Weavers’ Co-operative Societies are affiliated to APCO supporting the backward linkage of production of handloom goods.
The marketing and sales activities of APCO reached a pinnacle of Rs. 254.71 crores during the year 2011-12 despite severe competition from mill-made and powerloom products. The performance of APCO during the last half of a decade in terms of procurement and sales set a new benchmark in the industry.
Andhra Pradesh One District One Product (ODOP)
To reap the benefits of scale, the Scheme uses a One District One Product (ODOP) approach for procuring inputs, the availment of common services, and marketing products. As part of the scheme, an ODOP will be developed to provide the framework for value chain development and alignment of infrastructure support.
APCO caters to the marketing of the products by the Primary handloom Weavers Societies who majorly comprise of the poor weavers. It also ensures to provide a fair and minimum wage to the weavers with a motto of equally sharing the profits among its members unlike Master Weavers where the weavers under them are exploited and the profits go to one person who is the owner/master weaver. The Government also ensures that the Cooperative society is able to access the benefits through schemes such as thrift funds, insurance etc., which results in financially strengthening the society.
Handmade Yarn through Charkas is used in Khadi whereas in Handlooms, mill made yarn is used for producing cloth. There is no difference in weaving process.
There are about 3.50 lakhs Handloom weavers depending on weaving and allied activities. Out of which approximately 50% are covered under 1282 Weavers Cooperative Societies in the State.
Uppada Jamadhani, Pochampalli tie and Dye Silk/Cotton varieties, Dharmavaram Silk Sarees, Venkatagiri Zari Sarees, Mangalagiri Dress materials, Godavari buta Sarees, Bandar Pattu Sarees, Peddapuram silks, Poduru Khadi.
Cotton/ Silk /Zari Sarees, Shirting, Dhoties Bed sheets, Towels, Lungies, Livery cloth, Suiting, Merino Blankets, Cumbals, Mosquito Nets, Carpets, Zamkhana, Gauge Cloth, Dress Materials, Modern Handkerchiefs, etc.
With the emergence of powerlooms and machinery it has become a strenuous task to find an original handloom. So here are some authentic fool-proof methods to identify a handloom saree.
• Examine the saree bevar, or edges. Pin-marks or holes are evenly spaced on the top and bottom of the saree, as the handlooms saree are woven by pinning the saree to the loom.
• The saree is bound to have a rugged uneven surface for an ethnic appeal.
• Handloom saree is surprisingly soft in texture, you could feel it only once you drape it.
• A handloom saree would have extra thread-end at the yardage, often made into tassels.
• A handloom saree would have the exact mirror image of prints on either side.
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