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Malkha is produced in several different villages in Andhra and other states. Malkha fabric is available in unbleached plain as well as a variety of natural or non-toxic colours and prints.
Problems with the conventional process
Today though in most parts of the country cotton farmers and weavers live side by side, – they have no direct links with each other.. Almost all cotton in India is grown by smallholder farming families, on small farms of under 5 acres. Farmers today are compelled to grow the kind of cotton that modern machinery needs: with a longer and stronger staple to withstand the rigours of high-speed processing. Growing this cotton is a risky business for Indian farmers, because the costs of seed and chemicals are high, and if the crop fails the farmer bears all the loss.
Handloom weaving is today the largest non-farm employer in the country, and mostly rural at that. 18% of the total textile output of the country comes from handlooms, and most of it is cotton. The handloom’s great advantage in the market of its huge diversity – each region has its particular weaves – is lost when handlooms everywhere have to use the. same mill-spun yarn.
Conventional cotton processing technology uses steam and high pressure to press loose lint into high-density bales, destroying the natural fibre to fibre separation. To undo the effects of baling a long line of costly machinery is needed – the blowroom. The force used in baling, unbaling and blowroom destroys a large part of the valuable qualities of cotton – absorbency, durability, softness, elasticity. Transport of cotton lint to centralized spinning mills, and again of the yarn to distant weaving centres adds to costs, pollution and depletion of fossil fuels.
The Malkha Process
The malkha process explores a way in which both farmers and weavers could benefit from each other, and in which spinning could also become a rural occupation. It is the missing link in a fully rural cotton textile industry using local raw material and local skills.
The technology used by malkha is a revolutionary new process in which cotton is handled gently, preserving its essential qualities.
In the malkha process the entire cot-ton textile chain becomes village based with the least harm to the environment. Malkha provides good cloth to the customer and livelihoods in rural India, embodying Gandhian principles of swaraj and village self-sufficiency.