Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin who inaugurated the SARAS (Sale of Articles of Rural Artisans Society) Fair organised by Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department said people of Coimbatore must support women self-help groups.
The fair had 80 stalls — 27 women’s self-help groups (SHGs) from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Goa, and 37 outlets for ‘Mathi’, short for ‘Mahalir Thittam’, wherein SHGs from several districts in Tamil Nadu, including 13 from Coimbatore - set up at the VOC Grounds on Sunday. Departments such as Aavin, Khadi and Tantea have also put up stalls.
Mr. Udhayanidhi told reporters, “This is a joint national initiative of SHGs by the State and Centre that will go on till March 12. The items sold here — from day-to-day essentials to saris and jewellery — are of good quality. I request the people of Coimbatore to visit the fair and support these women SHGs.”
Coimbatore District Collector Kranthi Kumar Pati and Corporation Commissioner M. Prathap and several officials were present at the launch.
Tamil Nadu Corporation for Development of Women (TNCDW) Additional Director S. Kavitha said the fair would be open from 10.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. “Further, training will be given to the SHG members on marketing and value addition. Cultural events will be held as well in the evenings on the ground,” the official added.
P. Venkateshwari of Bharathi Magalir Kuzhu from Theni, said, “The fair is a testament to women’s entrepreneurship. We are here to promote environment-friendly sanitary napkins made of banana fibre, which are tested, safe, and soft. They decompose in six months, so incineration and disposal issues are reduced. The packets are priced from ₹35-₹150 based on the number of pads. We have been distributing these for free in all panchayats in Theni. Discussions with SHGs in Ooty and Coimbatore are ongoing to implement the drive in villages here too.”
Yamuna Devi, a member of the SHG under the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project (formerly Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project - TNRTP), said the stall’s speciality is puja items made of cow dung and utensils from lemon grass residue. “We avail of lemon grass from farmers and our members press out the oil. We make containers, ladles and spoons with the residue. A cup costs ₹4 and a container ₹30, these can be used once for hot items.”
P.P Monisha, a private school student in Coimbatore, said, “The fair is a one-stop arena for clothes, utensils, groceries etc., rather than scouting for items at supermarkets or malls. The quality is superior too.”
Entry to the fair is free.