In the mountain villages of Nepal hemp has been used for centuries because of its strength and durability. Indigenous to Nepal, hemp requires little cultivation or mechanical processing and quickly regenerates after cutting. It is the ultimate environmentally friendly Nepali product.
Ganesh Himal Trading works with a producer group in Nepal that is committed to developing environmentally friendly products using this indigenous hemp and that is committed to implementing fair trade principles in their business.
The hemp fabric used in these products is grown and woven in the villages of western Nepal and then tailored in Bhaktapur. The workers involved in creating these fine products receive a fair wage, full medical coverage, bonuses and pension benefits, housing loans and paid leave for their work. They are encouraged to voice grievances and discuss resolutions to problems that arise in the workplace. When you purchase Ganesh Himal Trading hemp products you keep traditional hemp weaving alive in the villages, help
support environmentally friendly products in Nepal and support workers who receive the benefits of fair trade. The production of hemp is so beneficial to the rural villages of Nepal, that during the ten year civil war, the Maoists allowed for the transport of hemp to Kathmandu but blocked all other goods!
HEMP: From Village to Bag, A Journey Across a Country.
Hemp grows naturally in the jungles of far western Nepal without pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals of any kind. At the end of its life cycle (4 months), villagers gather the hemp knowing that it will regenerate. Wasting nothing, seeds are used for cooking oil while the stems are kept for their fiber.
Collected stems are placed in a mud hole with water for several weeks in order to soften the material. When ready, the bark is separated from the stem.
Villagers weave the threads using a back-strap loom (A simple loom which has its roots in ancient civilizations comprising two sticks between which the warps are stretched. One stick is attached to a fixed object and the other to the weaver usually by means of a strap around the back.) Each strip of fabric produced ranges from 6-24 inches wide, depending on the weaver’s reach.
Boil & Beat
The fabric is then boiled in ash water for a few hours, after which they beat it with a flat wooden stick, softening the fabric. The villagers receive approximately $5 USD per finished piece of hemp (most Nepalese live on $2 a day, with an average yearly income of less than $200).
Porters journey village to village collecting one to four pieces of hemp from each home. This collection takes several days as villages are distanced days from each other. Once the pieces are collected, they are carried to the nearest bus station in Bajura Bazar or Dune Bajar, an additional day’s walk. These district “head quarters” are 700 miles north west from Kathmandu, an additional 2 day journey by bus.
“The production of hemp helps a lot, especially in the villages to buy their needs like medicine and to pay their children’s school fees. The fabric piece is about 3.5 meters long and earns them $5/piece. They do this job when they have time from their farming. It is their extra income. The thing is, if this hemp wasn’t cut off and collected by the villagers, it grows denser next season. So it even helps the environment.
Hemp pieces which are 18-24″ wide and 3- meters long are all made in the village. Can find only 1-to 4 pieces in a house. Takes days to collect from the village. Then they carry on back to the nearest bus station which is at least 4-5 hours or a days walk down Dune Bajar or Bajura Bazar. It is about 700 miles north west from Kathmandu and takes 2 days to reach to KTM.
Before they’d carry on back down to Dhangadi Bazar which is mid western regional head quarter. Now bus goes near to the village ( district head quarter ). Now they wait till winter season and send to KTM by local bus. They still need to collect from home to home and carry back to the nearest bus station. Some villages are only a couple of hours walking distance but some villages are as far as a full day walk. If you need more information, please write me, it will be my pleasure to provide you interesting information” -Aryal, Sadle Traders
Learn More about Sadle Trading
Located in Bhaktapur, Sadle creates environmentally sustainable products from materials such as hemp, no kill leather and recycled rubber inner tubes. It was founded in 1984 and currently works with 30 jewelers and tailors. Sadle is the oldest and largest exporter in Nepal and works to source all of it’s raw materials from Nepal, which in turn, supports the local economy. This producer group is very committed to breaking down caste barriers and religious differences between employees, so that everyone is treated equally, the working environment is harmonious, and every individual is well paid.