About Masuta
Masuta ProducerMASUTA Producers Company Limited (herein referred to as Masuta) was registered on 26th December 2005 as a Producers’ Company (S 581c (5) of Part IX A of the Companies Act 1956. Masuta was promoted by PRADAN, a national developmental organisation working on enhancing livelihood opportunities for the underprivileged across India.

Masuta was formed with the objective of providing sustainable livelihood opportunities to poor women by bringing in new technology of reeling and spining tasar yarn from tropical tasar cocoons. Tasar yarn is traditionally extracted by the women in the handloom weavers’ households through a manual, laborious and inefficient process known as thigh reeling. No other community is involved in making the yarn. By introducing technology which requires a low skill (and consequently, scalable) and providing market linkages for the yarn produced, Masuta has created a new sustainable livelihood opportunity for the poor women. Masuta is registered as a producer company to empower the women producers to be the owners of their own enterprise.

As at the end of March 2010, Masuta is owned by over 2500 producers. Presently, Masuta is the only women tasar yarn producers’ collective in India. It is governed by a group of selected producer-leaders who form the Board of Directors. It has also co-opted some development practitioners and subject experts to provide guidance to the company. Presently, Masuta has presence in the States of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Bihar.
Background
Tasar, one of the wild silk accounts less than 5% of total silk production in India and India is the second largest producer of Tasar silk in the world after China. Though China produces only temperate tasar, India produces both tropical (the majority) as well as temperate (in sub-Himalayan regions) tasars. Tropical Tasar which is grown only in India is also known as Indian Tasar, its Masuta Producersilkworm is reared on its host trees like Asan (Terminalia tomentosa), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) and Sal (Sorea sp.), available abundantly in the estimated 14.5 million hectares of tropical forests in the central Indian Plateau.

In the past three decades, the demand for Silk in the domestic market has increased at the rate of 5% per year on real terms. However, the production of Tasar silk during the same period has gone down from 600 tonnes in 1970 to 302 tonnes in 2004-05 (source CSB). The overall demand for Tasar silk yarns far exceeds its supply in India. Hence India has to import nearly 900 to 1200 tons (more than 75% of total demand) of Tasar silk from China and Korea (all temperate Tasar) to meet its demand. The total value of Tasar fabric trade in India is estimated to be nearly Rs.450 crore. The domestic market accounts for nearly 60% of the total trade and the rest is export market.

Traditional Tasar (Tropical Tasar) producing states in India are Jharkhand, Chattishgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, (part of) Bihar, (part of) West Bengal, (part of ) Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. This region is characterised by high tribal concentrations and believed to have wide forest cover with abundant availability of Tasar host plants like Asan and Arjuna trees. Over the years, the forest got depleted along with the livelihood base for these forest dwellers. The rich forest soil got exposed and eroded, reducing the once forestlands into fallow undulating uplands. Thus agriculture has never become developed; still remain at subsistence level in this region. Majority of the rural population migrated to cities in search of jobs and the younger generation is confused about their future.
About Pradan (The Promoting Organisation)
PRADAN is a not-for-profit organization, registered as a Society in Delhi. It inducts potential professionals from the reputed institutes from all over India and abroad, grooms them through year-long structured in-field and off-field inputs and places them in small teams close to the community for grass-root actions.

Presently PRADAN works with about 2 lac rural households benefiting about a million populations spread over 8 states of central India.

Promotion of nurturing of Self Help Groups of women and Integrated Natural Resource Management are the core of our interventions. Among various sectoral interventions, Improved Agriculture, house-hold Dairy, poultry farming and Tasar Sericulture based livelihood activities are key activities.

Extension of technology, innovation of need based technologies for the above interventions are always looked for by us to make the livelihood prototypes more robust and sustainable.

The idea of establishing a totally producer owned institution was triggered by PRADAN. Presently, MASUTA is the only women tasar yarn producers’ collective in our country.

PRADAN’s intervention starts with the formation of women Self Help Groups (SHGs) with savings and credit as their activity. By this way the dependence of such poorer families on the local moneylenders for small amount of credit get reduced.

In the second stage, PRADAN and the women SHG members jointly explore for income enhancement activities for the women. Among various possibilities of existing or potential sub-sectors, the women and PRADAN professionals jointly decides in the livelihood activities.

There are primary sectors like improved agriculture; household poultry, household dairy etc and its allied sector like tasar yarn making are some of such activities decided by the women. For details, please visit the website: www.pradan.net