Kolkata: The Centre of Excellence for manufacturing household articles from sal leaves and sabai grass set up by the West Bengal Khadi and Village Industries Board (WBKVIB) at Jhargram is expected to provide livelihood support to self-help groups associated with the craft.The centre, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on March 6, is imparting training in manufacturing of diversified products from sal leaves and sabai grass and at the same time providing the infrastructure for storage of the leaves and Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata Bosegrass. Around 1800 self-help groups in the district are associated with manufacturing articles from sal leaves and sabai grass. “There is a certain time in the year — a period of around three months usually during the monsoon season when the production of the leaves and grass are very high. It compels the growers to sell their stuff at a very low price sometimes resulting in distress sale. The centre is expected to address this issue,” a senior official of WBKVIB said. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataArtisans from economically-backward sections of the society and tribal communities manufacture plates and bowls from sal leaves while the grass is used in making bio-degradable ropes and baskets. The Khadi Board will be purchasing the stuff directly from the producers at a flat rate of Rs 70 per 100 leaves and will store them at the centre. Accordingly, the self-help groups, associated in the manufacture of products, will be encouraged to make diversified products from sal leaves such as wall hangings, curtain, table tops and various other articles that can deck up the interiors of a home. The workers also will be trained in making products like caps and bags with sabai grass. “We will also provide marketing support to them and at the same time encourage research and development,” the official said. The self-help groups associated with the manufacturing process are adept but the products need to be constantly upgraded and diversified to cater to the market demand. “This is where the Board has chipped in,” the official said. The Khadi Board has also come up with a facility centre for hand gloves meant for industrial use particularly in thermal plants. Eighty people at Bhuniakhali area of Moyna block in East Midnapore are associated with manufacturing of these gloves. The centre will provide infrastructure for storage , provide modern machineries and other requisite raw material to boost production.