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Cambodia to revitalise silk sector
31
Mar '16
Alarmed by its rapid decline, the Cambodian government has decided to initiate steps to revitalise the silk industry with a new development strategy aimed at making local sericulture modern, sustainable and inclusive.

At a recent industry event in the capital Phnom Penh, Mao Thora, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Commerce and chairman of the Cambodia Silk Sector Development and Promotion Commission, said a government-led initiative will seek support from international donors and investors to rebuild the nation's flagging silk industry, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

The strategy aims to move toward producing high-value silk products in order to create jobs and reduce poverty in rural communities, especially among women.

“We want to find investment partners because right now silk is a family scale business and the export is [minimal] because the quality is poor,” Thora said.

The commission has drafted the strategy with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and technical assistance from the International Trade Centre (ITC), part of the World Bank Group. No budget or agenda has been announced.

The ITC, which has worked closely with Cambodia's silk industry since 2003 has helped local producers access international markets.

Xuejun Jiang, chief of ITC's office for Asia and the Pacific, said his organisation prioritised Cambodia's silk sector because an overwhelming 98 per cent of the country's 20,000 weavers are women.

“We have been working closely with many companies in the silk sector but only the private sector can make trade happen, of course this will require the strong support and commitment of the government,” he added.

In Cambodia, silk weaving is often a parallel activity to farming, allowing women to generate additional income. Silk is an important source of employment in Cambodia.

Government support, as well as international donor commitments, has been crucial to the success of Artisans Angkor, which operates a silk farm and workshops in Siem Reap province and is one of the country's largest producers of silk products.

Secretary-General of Artisans Angkor Vidano Kernem said the future of Cambodian's silk industry depends on the cultivation of sufficient mulberry trees to feed silkworms that produce high-quality silk, and for producers of this silk to develop creative designs that attract both local and international clients.

Cambodia currently imports 300 tonnes of silk annually to meet market demand. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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