Cottage industries play an important role in the district economy. Since these industries require small capital they are within the reach of artisans with meagre means. Being labour-intensive they create large openings for employment. To create full-time employment in rural areas to the desired extent and to provide part-time occupation to agriculturists during their spare season the Government has sponsored a few Rural Industrial Projects in the State. However there is no such project in this district.
In 1884, Ahmadnagar crafts and industries were of local consequence and were confined to the weaving of cotton, silk and wool, tailoring, saddle-making, lac and glass bangle making, working in gold, silver, copper, brass and iron, pottery, carpentry, tanning, grain-parching, confectionery, leather working, basket-making, indigo-dyeing, oil-pressing and stone-quarrying and dressing. Of these, hand-loom weaving was the chief. Weaving was carried on to a considerable extent throughout the district except in Akola, Nevasa and Shrigonda. The hand-loom weaving industry was said to have been introduced in Ahmadnagar city by a rich Koli of the Bhangaria clan soon after the city was founded in 1499.
Traditional crafts are conducted on house-hold and cottage industries scale. They are mostly servicing and processing establishments, catering to the requirements of local population. There were more than 3,500 small-scale and cottage industrial establishments in 1961 in the district. The important cottage industries are hand-looms, gar-making, bidi-making, oil-pressing (tel ghanis), leather works, tanning, bricks and pottery making, coir and rope making, etc.
The State Industries Department has started peripatetic schools and training-cum-production centres for training artisans at Wadgaon, Sonai, Ahmadnagar and Shevgaon. Financial assistance is given for cottage industries like power-looms, tanning and leather working. The Maharashtra State Village Industries Board also assists certain village industries like khadi, bee-keeping, palm, gur, hand-made paper, ghee, bone-mill chalk, plaster of paris, slates, pencils, mat-weaving, hand-pounding of rice, match industry, etc., with the help of the All-India Khadi and Village Industries Commission. There is a centre of palm-gur training at Loni-Haveli in the district.
Bidi-making: This is a very important cottage industry in the district. It provides employment to a considerable number of persons and is a source of livelihood to the very poor section of population. It is mainly concentrated in Ahmadnagar, Nevasa and Sangamner talukas.
Tobacco is the prime raw material though pan, thread and packing paper are also required. The artisans purchase the tobacco from the local markets. Pan, thread and paper are available in the local market.
Generally the workers are employed by contractors who provide them with all the necessary materials like tobacco, leaves and thread. The wages are fixed at the rate of Rs. 3 to Rs. 3.50 per thousand bidis. In some cases bidi-making is undertaken by all the working members of a family in their residential premises. The house-hold bidi-making industry is seasonal and generally brisk from October to June. In the rainy season, the workers take to agricultural operations.
The bidi workers are not found to have formed co-operative societies or associations in the district.
Goldsmithy and silversmithy: In 1961, 1,339 persons were engaged in the manufacture of jewellery and silver-ware. This industry is scattered throughout the district in rural areas as well as in urban areas, though Ahmadnagar, Sangamner, Parner, Nevasa, Kopargaon and Pathardi are the main centres where gold and silver articles are prepared and marketed on a large scale. The artisans mainly comprise the community of Sonars who are traditionally engaged in the industry. The Gold Control Order of 1963 affected the industry to a very great extent. The amendment to the order of 1963 has however brought considerable relief to the artisans who are now allowed to manufacture ornaments of 22 carat purity.
Gold and silver are required as the principal raw materials for the industry. Copper and different kinds of soldering materials and acids constitute the other raw material. As per the new Gold Control Rules the artisans are permitted to melt old ornaments for making new ornaments.
Anvils, hammers, bellows, pincers (chimata), moulds, file, nails, pots,
crucibles, etc. are required as tools for the industry. The total cost of tools depends upon the nature and quality of the ornaments made by the artisans. Small establishments require tools worth Rs. 200 to Rs. 250 and for specialised and skilled job instruments and tools worth more than Rs. 1,000 are required. For mechanical or electrical units like dye-press, electroplating instrument and machine for rolling strings the cost amounts to about Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 8,000.
Neck-wear, rings, bracelets, bangles, gold or silver buttons, strings of beads and silver-ware are manufactured in this district. Sonars get orders from Sarafs or direct from the customers. Some of the artisans make attractive articles of various designs. Meena work which is a delicate job of drawing names and pictures on finger rings and bangles is also undertaken. Some artisans are engaged in electro-plating, gold-plating and silver-plating. Village artisans or the artisans in urban areas make articles at their homes. They get orders in advance along with the provision of raw material from Sarafs or from the customers. Due to changes in the tastes of the customers, the demand for the articles has undergone considerable changes during the last 25 years. People now prefer lighter and more decorative ornaments. The artisans are generally very busy during the marriage season.
This is a hereditary occupation of the Sonar community. Generally, the adult males of the Sonar families work as a unit. A very few females are engaged in this industry. According to the 1961 Census there were only 10 females engaged in this industry. Some shopkeepers or Sarafs employ outside workers. They pay the artisans on piece-rate which may mean an earning of about Rs. 8 to Rs. 12 per day for an average artisan.
An artisan who operates a small-scale unit requires about Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 for initial investment. The number of goldsmiths affected by Gold Control Order was 531 in the year 1969-70 in the district, Under State Aid to Industries Rules the amount of assistance rendered by the Zilla Parishad to the affected gold-smiths was to the tune of Rs. 2,64,591 in 1969-70.
Hand-looms: This is the most important cottage industry in the district. It is said to have been introduced in Ahmadnagar town by a rich Koli of the Bhangaria clan soon after the town was founded (1499). In 1820 there were only 213 looms in Ahmadnagar. The number rose to 1,322 looms for weaving saris or women's robes and other cotton cloths in 1850, and to 3,135 looms in 1884 in Ahmadnagar and in the neighbouring village of Bhingar. The cloth produced in the district at that time was of a fine quality and had a wide market in Pune, Nasik and other places. The silk cloth was also woven in small quantity. In the beginning the yarn required for this industry was imported from England. Since 1865, the hand-loom weaving
industry recorded a decline due to the rising prices of yarn and particularly those of the yarn manufactured from imported cotton. Hand-loom weaving suffered a decline during the American war which was mainly attributed to the famine prices of grain prevailing then. During the decade succeeding the American War (1865-75), hand-loom weaving experienced revival from the conditions of stagnation. The revival was chiefly the result of two reasons, viz., the fall in the price of yarn as a result of spread of steam spinning mills in Bombay and the reduction in the cost of living due to fall in the local price of grain. The famine of 1876-77 had an adverse effect on the hand-loom weaving industry. This was however followed by a revival in the following year due to the increase in the demand for the cloth and improvement in the supply of yarn. The cost of production of yarn fell mainly because of the reduction in cost of spinning in mechanised factories in Bombay. The local cost of yarn was further reduced by the opening of Dhond-Manmad railway in 1878. The opening of a new railway line had been a great boon to hand-loom weavers as it brought large quantities of millet from Khandesh and Jabalpur and thereby lessened and equalised the cost of living. In 1884, not more than 50 per cent of the weavers were hereditary Koshtis. Besides Koshtis, even Brahmins, Komtis, Kunbis, Malis and Musalmans were engaged in this occupation.
Many weavers were employed by cloth-dealers who provided them money and yarn and in return took ready-made goods. Other weavers used to take the cloth to wholesale traders for sale and were paid in cash in return. About three-fourths of the ready-made goods found markets outside the district in Jalna, Aurangabad, Khandesh, Sholapur and Bombay as one-fourth of the total was sufficient to meet local demands. Now, the industry has been brought under the co-operative fold to a very large extent. The industry is considerably old but has declined in importance mainly because of the competition of mill-made cloth and artificial fabrics which have become more popular. The main centres of the industry are Ahmadnagar, Sangamner, Pathardi and Parner. At the end of May 1961 there were 4,951 registered hand-looms. Almost all the looms are run by individual weaver families with the exception of some who engage weavers on daily wages or on piece-work.
Cotton yarn which is the main raw material is available in the local market and superfine yarn is imported from Bombay and from other places. However, some of the weavers' societies distribute yarn and other requirements such as silk and art silk to the weaver members. It is brought from different places and after reaching the district it is twisted and dyed in various colours. Generally, yarn of 10s, 16s, 30s and 60s counts is used. About 30 to 40 lbs. of yarn of medium count is required to operate one loom per month. For saris or women's robes,
coloured yarn is required which is imported mainly from Bombay. Very old type of tools and equipment are used in hand-loom weaving. The artisans are very poor and cannot afford to purchase modern and improved types of tools useful for improving the quality and rate of production. Only fly-shuttle and automatic take-up motion looms are in vogue in this area. Fly-shuttle looms, beams, reeds (phanis), creel machines, dobbies, dhote, rahats and sticks constitute the tools and equipment for hand-loom weaving. The cost of one loom and its accessories varies between Rs. 550 and Rs. 600. Instead of the framework in the old English hand-loom, the Ahmadnagar looms have the heddle rope, and the reed (phani) is hung from a bar running across the room from wall to wall. The yarn roll and cloth-beam are supported by the four posts. The posts supporting the cloth beam are about one foot high, stuck in a platform about a foot and a half above the level of floor. The artisan sits on the platform and behind the cloth-beam. The post which supports the yarn roll is kept about
2½ feet high to bring the yarn roll to the same height as the cloth-beam. The sets of heddles made of knotted threads hang from a bar run across the room and are worked by the treadles under the weaver's feet. The reed from the same bar is made of split reed sets in a plain wooden frame. The shuttle is made of buffalo horn, and is about eight inches long. The bobbin holds the thread and is fixed on one long pivot. The shuttle is thrown by hand through the shed of the warp alternately from one side to the other. After passing one way the reed is brought up against the thread with a jerk thus forming the woof. By the movement of treadles the heddle threads work so as to reverse the position of the two layers of the warp bringing up to the lower and taking down the upper layer after each passage of the shuttle. In this way the handloom cloth is woven.
The production of the industry consists of saris and other female robes, dhotis, shirtings and pasodis. Silk and art silk are used in the production of saris and female robes.
The products of hand-looms had a wide market in the beginning of the 20th century. About three-fourths of the production was sent to Jalna, Aurangabad, Khandesh, Sholapur and Bombay. Now the demand from the other districts has decreased due to the establishment of the textile mills. The total production of hand-loom cloth was 96,03,06,000 metres in the year 1965-66.
The art of weaving is by and large hereditary and most of the workers belong to the Kosthi and Momin castes though many others have also adopted the same. The work is brisk from November to June and is slack during the rainy season. The number of workers in this industry was 3,380 in the year 1961 of whom 2,494 were males and the rest were females. This industry is concentrated mostly in urban
areas. The daily average employment was 1,133 persons in 1965-66. An artisan can earn between Rs. 4 and Rs. 8 daily. On an average three saris are woven in two days on automatic loom and one on fly-shuttle loom per day. In certain cases the wages are paid on piece basis also.
Finance is very essential for purchase of improved types of tools and equipment, the paucity of which forces the artisans to fall back upon the traditional methods of production. A weaver requires about Rs. 600 to Rs. 700 as initial capital. Government helps the hand-loom weavers by extending financial assistance for buying yarn and for marketing their products. The Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board disbursed financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 2,12,812.50 for benefit of this industry in the district in 1969-70.
In 1961 there were 32 weavers' co-operative societies of which 28 were hand-loom weavers' societies. Their combined membership was 4,765, share-capital Rs. 3.05 lakhs and working capital Rs. 16.07 lakhs. These societies produced goods worth Rs. 51.17 lakhs during 1961. The number of co-operative societies increased to 34 in 1966. The membership also increased to 9,279 individual members in 1966. The share-capital and the working capital also increased to Rs. 38,02,000 and to Rs. 83,41,000, respectively, in 1966.
Carpentry, furniture and black-smithy: Carpentry and black-smithy are the hereditary occupations of Sutars and Lohars, respectively. In the villages they are engaged either in making or repairing agricultural implements. These occupations were an integral part of the rural economy from ancient times. In urban area they are engaged in making building materials and in making or repairing furniture. Despite the gradual replacement of out-moded implements by better machines and availability of finished products, the industry holds its position in the economy of the district even to-day.
Black-smiths form about 117 among one lakh population while carpenters about 159 in a lakh of population in the district. Though in every village there is a carpenter and a black-smith, the artisans are mostly to be found in towns like Ahmadnagar, Sangamner, Parner, Pathardi and Shrirampur. In the absence of forests in the district the wood essential for carpentry is imported from the other districts. Black-smiths get iron and steel from the local markets.
The Sutar's tools comprise (their prices given in brackets) wasala (Rs. 10 to Rs. 15) patasi (Rs. 5 to Rs. 6), ari (Rs. 10 to Rs. 12), girmit (Rs. 5 to Rs. 6), whet stone (Rs. 2), karwat (Rs. 7 to Rs. 10), hatoda (Rs. 2), files (kanas), gunya, chhani (chisels), randha, screw-driver. pakad, etc. The entire set costs about Rs. 150.
The tools and equipment of a black-smith consist of anvil, furnace, bellows, sledge-hammers, sandashi, files and chisels. Most of the tools
are of a rough and primitive nature. The capital invested by an individual black-smith ranges from Rs. 300 to Rs. 500.
The demand for agricultural implements is local. Unskilled carpenters make agricultural implements. The skilled carpenters make tables, cupboards, chairs, panels, etc. which have a large demand from urban area. Blacksmiths make agricultural implements which have a demand from the local market. Their products include crude and rough buckets.
Carpenters are generally employed throughout the year. Before rainy season they are engaged in making and repairing of agricultural implements and after the rainy season they are engaged in making furniture and in building construction. In their spare time they make house-hold articles and toys. According to the 1961 Census, 3,630 persons were engaged in carpentry, joining and pattern making, of whom only 1,039 were found in urban area. Carpenter was and still is an important constituent of the baluta system. Under the baluta system he is paid in kind. The earning of a carpenter varies from Rs. 6 to Rs. 8 per day depending upon the nature of work that he performs and the skill that he possesses. They are generally paid on piece-work basis. Very often the black-smiths get orders from the agriculturists who give metal-sheets for making the articles. In such cases black-smiths get only the wages for their services. They are faced with unemployment in the rainy season. Black-smith gets about Rs. 5 to Rs. 8 per day. The 1961 Census shows that 1,965 persons were engaged in black-smithy, hammer-smithy and forging. Most of them were males and belonged to rural area.
Carpenter requires an initial investment of Rs. 150 for his tools and equipment. The carpenter cannot keep a stock of goods ready for sale due to lack of sufficient finance. They purchase raw material on short-term credit from the timber-merchants. But in the towns there are some establishments which employ carpenters in furniture marts. The capital investment by an individual black-smith ranges from Rs. 300 to Rs. 500. Village artisans are very poor and cannot afford to purchase modern and improved types of tools useful for improving the quality and rate of production. Hence, the Government has started a Carpentry and Blacksmithy Training-cum-Production Centre at Sangamner under the Rural Industrialization Project. The Zilla Parishad provided loans amounting to Rs. 19,100 to 33 artisans in 1969-70 as aid for improving the state of their business.
There was one carpentry and blacksmithy co-operative society in 1961. At present there are seven carpentry and blacksmithy cooperative societies in the district.
Oil-pressing: This is a hereditary occupation of the Teli community. Of the total cultivated area in the district, about 87,480 hectares of land
is under oil-seeds. The main oil-seeds grown are safflower, ground-nut, sesamum, linseed, etc. This is an important cottage industry in the district.
There were 461 oil-pressing ghanis in 1961. Oil-ghanis are found throughout the district but mostly in Shevgaon, Ahmadnagar, Nevasa, Pathardi, Karjat, Akola and Shrirampur talukas.
Besides edible oils, non-edible oils such as neem seed oil and castor oil are also extracted. In Shrigonda and other surrounding areas thousands of neem trees are found. Oil extracted from neem seeds is used in the manufacture of soap.
Ground-nut, safflower, sesamum and other oil-seeds are the raw materials which are available in the local markets.
Oil-men still use old types of ghanis consisting of a stone (inside lined with wood) and a wooden lat (a large pestle) worked by a bullock. The cost of a ghani excluding the bullock is about Rs. 300 to Rs. 350.
In some cases improved oil-ghanis have been installed. The artisans, however, show a marked preference for the baby expellers. A baby expeller costs about Rs. 5,000,
Oil and oil-cake are sold in the local markets. Oil-cake is used for feeding the cattle. The oil-cake from the baby expellers is used as a fertiliser. The total production of oil and oil-cake of oil ghanis was valued at Rs. 36,42,846 and Rs. 6,89,807, respectively.
In 1961, 1,130 persons were engaged in this industry. The members of the Teli community operate the ghani. Some ghani-owners employ two or three workers and pay them Rs. 50 or Rs. 60 per month each. This is mainly a seasonal industry and provides employment from November to July. In the rainy season the artisans take to agriculture. A Teli family generally earns about Rs. 250 per month from oil extraction.
The industry requires large capital investment as the oil-men have to keep a good stock of oil-seeds. They are stocked at the time of harvest when the prices are generally low. In 1969-70 the Zilla Parishad granted Rs. 3,350 by way of loans to Telis in the district. The Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board provided financial assistance of Rs. 2,27,232.50 to this industry in 1969-70.
In 1961, there were 11 co-operative oil-ghani societies in the district. The number increased to 17 in 1969-70.
Rope and coir making: Rope-makers are mostly found in the rural area. According to 1961 Census, 4,665 artisans were engaged in jute rope making and 114 artisans in cotton rope making. The industry is scattered throughout the district. Both men as well as women are engaged in the industry.
Sisal and ghaypat fibre and cotton threads are used as raw material by the artisans. Sisal, from which fibre is extracted, is grown all
over the district. Ready fibre is brought for sale and it is purchased by the rope-makers. The sisal fibre in ready condition is exported not only to the neighbouring districts but to Calcutta and Bombay also. In 1963-64, sisal-fibre worth about Rs. 40 lakhs was exported to Calcutta.
The tools required are insignificant consisting of a wooden twisting wheel used in the process of rope-making. The twisting wheel is a very traditional and crude type of tool.
Long and short ropes, kasaras, nadas. saundars and bullock neck bands are the products made by the rope-makers. In 1969-70, the value of ropes produced was Rs. 29,371 in the district.
There is considerable local market for the products. Ropes are also sent to the neighbouring districts and even to Bombay also.
This industry provides employment to the artisans throughout the year. Every family of rope-makers works as one unit and earns about Rs. 8 in a day.
The rope-makers belong to the lowest rung of the social ladder, and are generally poor. The artisans obtain finance from the village money-lenders on short-term basis. The Zilla Parishad distributes loans to the artisans. In the year 1969-70, thirty artisans were in receipt of Rs. 11,750 from the Zilla Parishad. The Maharashtra Khadi and Village Industries Board provided financial assistance of Rs. 23,352.50 to the artisans in 1969-70.
There were seven co-operatives in rope and coir making industries in 1961 in Ahmadnagar district. At present the number of co-operative societies stands at five. The Rural Industrialization Project had proposed to start five common facility-cum-service centres of sisal fibre extraction and rope-making at Virgaon, Ganore, Shrigonda, Takli, Dhokeshwar and Kokangaon.
Fisheries: This is a hereditary occupation of the Bhoi and Koli communities. According to the 1961 Census, 273 persons were engaged in fisheries in the district of whom 46 were females. Rivers, tanks and ponds are the chief sources of fishing activities. Fishing is done mainly in the Godavari, the Bhima, the Pravara and their tributaries. The total length of the perennial rivers in the district is about 480 km. There were 25 tanks and ponds which provided about 7,000 acres of water-spread area in 1961.
Fishing is generally done with the help of gill nets known as Bhusi, Kul, Tiwari, Pandi, etc., and cast nets called Pagar. At some places some Bhois use small boats for fishing in the Godavari and Bhima rivers. Some Bhois knit the nets themselves. The nets are mostly cotton twine but now, nylon is also effectively used for making the nets.
The commercially important varieties of fish such as kirkit of
Shrigonda, murrel, shivda, chamar or chalat, pal, dondaonya, khavlya, khaval, kolshi, zinga, boi, kalunder, kharabi and muri are found in the district.
The perennial rivers provide employment to the Bhois throughout the year. But some of the small rivers dry up in the summer. Since fishing industry has a limited scope some of the fishermen undertake seasonal agriculture.
Fish is sold in the local market. Generally female-members from Bhoi families are engaged in selling fish.
Finance is required for purchasing the nets and boats. A net costs about Rs. 30 to Rs. 40. Most of the Bhois use the nets knitted by themselves.
There were three co-operative societies of fisheries in the district. They were given financial assistance in the form of loans and subsidy and also help to secure tanks and ponds on lease for purpose of pisciculture.
Mula dam which is under construction is expected to have a water storage area of about 42 square miles. It would expand the scope of pisciculture, and is likely to increase the annual catch to about 4,000 tons.
Glass bangles: Glass bangles are manufactured at Pemgiri in Sangamner taluka, at Gardani, Pimpaldari and Lahit Kh. in Akola taluka and at Dongarkinhi in Jamkhed taluka. At the time of publication of the old Gazetteer of Ahmadnagar there were eight kilns of glass bangles in Ahmadnagar district, of which two were in Pemgiri. three in Dongarkinhi and one each at Gardani, Pimpaldari and Lahit Kh. The workmen engaged in these concerns were the Kanchars who speak Telugu and hailed from South India about one hundred and forty years ago.
Glass and various kinds of colours are used for manufacturing glass bangles. Some manufacturers possess bhattis for manufacturing glass from broken bangles and other glass articles. Bangles of various types, designs and colours are produced by the artisans. The bangles are either bought by the pedlars in the district called Kasars or sent to other districts, viz., Pune, Nasik and Bombay.
Generally Kanchar families are employed in making bangles.
Saltpetre: Saltpetre is generally made by a class of people called Lonaris who are either Marathas or Pardeshis. But Mangs, Mahars and Kolis are also engaged in this industry.
Saltpetre is chiefly found at the sites of deserted villages in Karjat, Kopargaon, Nevasa, Sangamner, Shevgaon and Shrigonda talukas.
A very few persons are engaged in this industry. This is a seasonal industry providing employment for about four months in a year. Each pit yields about 4 to 12 hundred weights of saltpetre during the season.
The season begins in February and lasts till the end of May.
Saltpetre-makers sell their produce to licensed fireworks and gunpowder makers. The product is sold in the district and exported to neighbouring districts and also to Bombay.
Brass and Copper Works: This is a hereditary occupation of the Tambat and Kasar communities. A few Muslims and Marathas are also engaged in this industry. In the past this was an important industry but now it has lost its importance due to the introduction of stainless steel utensils. Ahmadnagar is famous since long for its copper and brass ware. Brass pots were also made at Amalner. According to the 1961 Census, 164 persons were engaged in making brass utensils and bell metal ware of which 87 were in the house-hold industry sector.
Copper and alloy of copper comprise the principal raw material. For re-rolling and castware zinc and tin are used. Sulphur and other acids and chemicals are also used as raw material for the industry. Copper is bought in the form of ingots, slab, billets and scrap, whereas metal-sheets are available in the local markets.
Chisels, hammers, cutters, tongs, clippers, etc., are used as tools by the copper-smiths (Tambats). Heat-blowers are used for heating. A set of tools and equipment costs about Rs. 500 to Rs. 600.
For fuel fire-wood, coke and electricity are used. The main products are: all types of brass and copper utensils such as ghagar, handas, lotas and tapeli which are used for domestic purposes.
This is a non-mechanised industry and the manufacturing of vessels is done by the hammering process. For manufacturing the vessels, brass-sheets are smelted so as to bring the required shape.
The articles prepared in house-hold industry are sold in the markets of Ahmadnagar, Shrirampur, Kopargaon, etc. The products are also exported to neighbouring districts like Dhule, Nasik, Pune and Sholapur. The sales are brisk during the marriage season.
An artisan employed by the manufacturer is able to produce five tapelis and earn about Rs. 6 to Rs. 7 per day. Some merchants supply copper and brass sheets to the artisans and the artisans prepare the articles. Monthly wages are paid at the rate of about Rs. 100 to Rs. 125 to an artisan by the merchant manufacturer.
Cement Tiles Making Industry: There is only one cement tiles making factory in Ahmadnagar district which is situated at Kopargaon. It was established in 1964. It is a well-equipped factory. The increasing use of cement tiles has encouraged the growth of this factory during the period of its existence.
The factory requires cement, marble, chips and colours as raw material. Cement is imported from Shahabad while other raw materials are imported from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bombay.
Diesel and power machines are required for manufacturing cement tiles. Moulds and polish stones are also required.
Proportionate and suitable cement is mixed with the marble stones and mosaics and soaked for some time in water and then this mixture is poured in required moulds. The process of making cement tiles is done by machinery. The tiles of various designs and volumes are manufactured in this factory.
Cement tiles have a wide market in and out of the district. They are exported to Bombay, Amravati, Sholapur, Latur, Barshi, Malegaon, Dhule and other towns.
This factory works for about 300 days in a year. In 1969-70, 35 persons were employed in this factory. The rate of wages paid to the skilled worker is Rs. 5.25 and to unskilled worker is Rs. 3 per day.
At the end of March 1970 the cost of (i) land and buildings, (ii) plant and machinery and (iii) furniture, fixtures and trade marks was (i) Rs. 24,758, (ii) Rs. 36,251 and (iii) Rs. 33,963 respectively. In 1969-70 the tiles worth Rs. 89,426 were manufactured in the factory of which tiles worth Rs. 78,543 were sold during the same year. Kopargaon Industrial Estate provided financial assistance to this factory for its further development.
Brick and tile making: Brick and tile making industry is mostly followed by Kumbhar families as a hereditary occupation. Bricks are used for building construction and tiles are used for roofing. Though this industry is found in almost all big villages in the district, it is, however, concentrated in Akola, Shrirampur, Karjat and Rahuri talukas. The 1961 Census shows that 873 persons were engaged in structural clay products such as bricks and tiles in the district, of whom 544 persons were males. This number is increasing due to new building construction works. Kumbhar families manufacture bricks and tiles on river-banks where ample water and clay are available.
Brick and tile making requires black and red clay, coke, groundnut husk, half-burnt charcoal, coal-dust and other burning waste and horse-dung.
The tools and equipment for making bricks and tiles consist of moulds, kiln, sieve, etc.
Proportionate and suitable earth is mixed with coke or ash and horse-dung and the mixture is soaked for some time in water.
Generally, bricks have a wide demand from towns, while tiles have demand from the rural areas.
This is a seasonal industry and works for about six months from November to May. This industry does not require skilled workers. The rate of daily wages paid to the male worker varies between Rs. 4 and Rs. 5, and to a female worker between Rs. 2 and Rs. 3 each.
This industry requires finance for purchasing raw material and for
paying the wage-bill. The Zilla Parishad had distributed a loan of Rs. 14,500 to 19 brick-makers in 1969-70, while the Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board provided an assistance of Rs. 46,487.50 for brick-making and pottery.
There was one co-operative society of brick-makers in 1961. At present there are five co-operative societies of the artisans in this industry.
Potters: This industry is spread all over the district, and is mostly followed by the Kumbhar community as a hereditary occupation. The 1961 Census enumerated 507 establishments of potters engaging about 2,113 artisans. Potters are mostly concentrated around Ahmadnagar city along the bank of Sina river, as well as in Kopargaon and Shrirampur talukas.
Black or red clay is available on the river-banks in the district. The clay found on the river-banks in Ahmadnagar, Kopargaon and Shrirampur talukas is excellent for pottery as well as for brick-making. Horse-dung, coal ash, coke, ground-nut husk, half-burnt charcoal and other types of burning waste are required as raw material for the industry. Fallen dry leaves of banyan and pimpal are used for baking.
The potter's equipment mainly consists of a traditional potter's wheel, moulds, pick-axes, ghamelas and a kiln to bake the pots.
Making of earthen articles involves a curious process. There is a potter's wheel which rotates to give the proper shape for the earthen articles with the help of hands. The Kumbhar gives a motion to the wheel by the help of a wooden stick. The pots are then dried and baked in the kiln to make them usable. After heating them, they are glazed and polished.
Potters make the traditional village pottery consisting of madakis, ranjans, ghagars, lote, thalis (earthen dishes), panatis for Diwali festival and other various articles. Besides these articles, flower pots and clay toys are also produced.
This industry provides employment to the artisans for about ten months in a year. During the rainy season Kumbhars often take to agriculture to supplement their income. In the villages the artisans are paid in kind, i.e., in terms of certain quota of food-grains, vegetables, etc.
This industry does not require much capital investment. One artisan requires about Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 as working capital. The artisans are very poor, and sometimes they are unable to raise even this amount. Efforts are being made to organise the industry on a cooperative basis. There were five co-operative societies of potters in 1961.
Leather Tanning: This is a hereditary industry of Dhor and Chambhar communities. Dhors are engaged in leather-tanning. Tanning and leather working are allied industries carried on by the Dhors and
Chambhars. According to the 1961 Census 538 persons were engaged in the process of flaying of hides and skins including taxidermy, curing. tanning and finishing of hides and skins, preparation of finished leather and stuffed animals. Dhors or Chambhars purchase raw hides of buffaloes, cows, bullocks, sheep and goats from local Mahars or from local Dhors whose hereditary occupation is to collect and sell raw hides. They also purchase the raw hides from slaughter-houses. Raw hides of superior quality are imported from Bombay and other places.
The raw materials required by the industry are hides, lime and chemicals like potassium dichromate, etc. These chemicals are imported from Bombay. Other raw materials required are babul bark, hirda and lime-water which are available in the local market.
Two or three lime-pits, tubs, washing tanks, and tools like chisels, aris, rapis, saws and wooden blocks are the tools and equipment required. The tanning pits are kachcha constructions.
First the hair of hides is removed by soaking it in the lime-water for 25 to 30 hours and rubbing lime from its inner side. After four or five days the hair are scrapped off when they become loose. It is then washed and soaked for nearly three days in a light solution of babul bark and hirda water. This process of soaking is repeated thrice. The hide is then tied into a bag and hung up with a stronger solution of babul bark and hirda water. It is kept for seven or eight days when it is again washed and dried. When the hide is completely dry it is ready for sale.
A tanner's family is able to produce 18 to 22 hides in a month. Since tanning is a long process, 18 to 22 hides are always under process when 18 to 22 are ready. For raw hides weighing one maund, 9.33 kg. of fresh lime water is required. A solution of 11.20 kg of babul bark and 3.73 kg of hirda is used for each washing.
The tanned hides are sold in the local markets and they are purchased by the local Chambhars who make or repair foot-wear. Some tanners manufacture pickers, belts and roller skins which are sold in the local market.
This industry provides employment to the artisans for about nine to ten months in a year. During rainy season they often take to agriculture to supplement their income. One family of three members tans about 20 pieces of buffalo-hides weighing about 453.39 kg a month.
The economic condition of the tanners is poor and they cannot afford to purchase improved types of tools and equipment useful for improving the quality of their work. They find it difficult to compete with well-organised leather manufacturing concerns which sell their products at lower price. An artisan requires a sum of Rs. 2,000 as working capital. They can obtain this amount by raising short-term loans. The Zilla Parishad provided a loan of Rs. 4,500 to nine tanners
in the year 1969-70. There were nine co-operatives of leather tanners in 1961.
Leather Products and Repairing: This is a hereditary occupation of the members of the Chambhar community. Chambhars are engaged either in making or repairing of leather products like footwear, etc. This industry also is an integral part of the rural economy from ancient times. Chambhar was an important member of baluta system in the past. Under the system he is paid in kind, i.e., in terms of certain quota of food-grains, vegetables, etc. In 1961, 2,531 persons were engaged in making leather goods such as shoes, chappals and manufacturing of other footwear; 700 persons were engaged in repairing of footwear and 448 persons were engaged in leather upholstery, suit-cases, pocket books, cigarettes and key cases, purses, saddlery, whips and other articles in the district. The ratio of shoe-makers to one lakh population in the district was 178 artisans in 1961. This industry is spread all over the district.
Crome and fancy leather, tanned hides, rubber for sole, colours, chemicals, polishing materials, nails, rings, buttons, wax, threads and other materials are used as raw material which are available in the local markets in the district. For repairing the soles of footwear old tyres and tubes of motor cars are also used. Crome and fancy leather, rings, etc. are obtained from Bombay.
Tools and equipment consist of ari, rapi, punches, hammer, wooden blocks, pakad, cutter and brushes. Some of the artisans use sewing machines. The cost of the entire set including sewing machine amounts to Rs. 600 to Rs. 700. The tools are traditional and are of old type. All the tools except sewing machines are manufactured locally and available in the local markets in the district. Sewing machines are imported from Bombay.
Shoes, chappals and sandals are the articles usually produced in large quantities. One good artisan is able to produce a pair of shoes in a day. The cost of a pair of shoes is about Rs. 10 to Rs. 12. One artisan is able to produce 25 pairs of shoes over a period of month. He sells his product direct to the customers in the local market and realises about Rs. 100 to Rs. 125 per month.
The artisans sell their products in local market. Some artisans go from house to house in rural areas to sell their product. Bicycle seat covers, suit-cases and other products are sold in the towns.
This industry provides employment to the Chambhars throughout the year. In rainy season when the work is slack, the artisans take to agriculture. In big towns these establishments give employment to the artisans and pay them either daily wages or remuneration on piece-rate basis. There are some big shoe-making shops employing two or three artisans, whose annual wage-bill amounted
to Rs. 32,920 in the year 1969-70.
An artisan requires about Rs. 600 to Rs. 700 for tools and equipment, and about Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 for raw material. The artisans are generally poor and work with their traditional old equipment. Scarcity of finance often drives the artisans into the clutches of merchant financiers. It is very difficult for them to compete with the well-organised leather manufacturing concerns which produce superior products and sell their products at lower prices. They generally obtain the working capital by raising short-term loans. Under State Aid to Industries Rules the Zilla Parishad, in 1969-70, provided loans amounting to Rs. 21,250 to 43 artisans. Similarly a sum of Rs. 80,962.50 was given as loan by the Maharashtra Khadi and Village Industries Board in the same year.
In 1961 there were nine co-operative societies of leather workers in the district. At present there are 27 co-operatives in leather tanning and leather works in the district.
Bamboo working: This is a hereditary occupation of the Mangs. The bamboo baskets and trays (sups) are the products of this cottage industry which are essential in every house-hold. Though the industry is scattered throughout the district it is mainly concentrated in Parner, Pathardi and Kopargaon talukas. The industry generally employs females, but male members are also engaged. Male members of the Mang community are engaged in gur-making and sugar-making industry seasonally. They also take to agriculture in the harvesting season.
Trader merchants with sufficient capital bring the bamboos from Anavar, Dandeli, Hubli as well as from the Satpuda mountain region and sell them on retail basis to the artisans.
Chisels, cutters, bends and wooden hammer are used as tools by the artisans. The whole set of tools costs about Rs. 20 to Rs. 25. The tools are traditional and of old type.
The articles produced are baskets, sups, toys from solid bamboo and other articles required for house-hold purposes. A woman-worker can make six baskets in a day from a bamboo of an average size and earn about Rs. 2.50. One bamboo costs about 60 to 75 paise.
There is considerable local market for the products of the industry. Bamboo articles are required for house-hold purposes and they are sold directly by the artisans. Pathardi and Parner are the main centres of this cottage industry.
According to the 1961 Census, 1,457 persons were engaged in the manufacture of material from cork, bamboo, cane, leaves and other allied products of whom 1,389 were engaged in house-hold industries.
Finance is required by the artisans for purchasing bamboos. Sometimes bamboos are purchased on credit for which 10 to 15 per cent extra charges are required to be paid.
In 1961 there was one co-operative cane and bamboo workers' society in the district.
Miscellaneous industries: Besides the above industries, there are many other industries like neera, hand-made paper, soap making, gas-plant, lime stone burning etc. In the rural areas these industries are very important as they provide employment to a considerable number of workers. Hand-made paper is made from rags and grass. Soap is made from neem seeds. Lime stone industry is important from the point of view of building construction and employment. The Maharashtra Khadi and Village Industries Board provided financial assistance of Rs. 36,583; Rs. 20,000; Rs. 14,871; Rs. 56,475; Rs. 7,500 and Rs. 4,000 to neera-making, hand-made paper making, soap-making, gas-plant industry, lime stones and dal-making industry, respectively, in 1969-70 in the district.