VFS microfinance borrower weaving bamboo basket

Basanti Jena

Keeping alive the bamboo-work tradition

In a world beset by plastic pollution, the likes of Basanti Jena hold out some hope. Basanti, 35, of Khageswarpur in Odisha’s Baleswar district, makes bamboo baskets used in rural areas by fishmongers, vegetable sellers, grocers and even householders.

Basanti, who was married off at 17 years to a man who has a small shop at the Chandaneswar vegetable market, took a loan from the Chandaneswar branch of Village Financial Services to invest in her business.

Basanti had learnt basket-making from her neighbours in 2009. She buys bamboo strips by the quintal from Jagannathpur; two to three quintals cost from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000.

She makes 15-20 baskets a day herself, without the help of any workers. Businessmen from Jaleswar, Balasore and Bhubaneswar buy her baskets, an environment-friendly alternative to hard plastic trays and containers.

Basanti’s husband also uses the baskets she makes to display potatoes, onion, ginger and garlic in his shop.

They have a daughter and two sons. The daughter, the eldest, often helps Basanti with her work when there is a rush of orders. In any case, the children, who study in the local government school, are at home because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Basanti makes baskets of various types, from phool dali and nouka to thali. The biggest demand is for the phool dali baskets, which fetch her Rs 25 each. Her range costs from Rs 5 to Rs 30 each.

Basanti says the first lockdown squeezed her business, and she missed many instalments of her loan. But she is back on track now with her loan repayments, although business is at a low pace, She is in her third loan cycle, which began in March 2021.

Published on Jun 30, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022