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Handicraft sector can reach new heights - Experts
Oct '08
Vietnam has always been known for its handicrafts and lately has generated interest among international buyers. Country's bamboo and rattan products are especially popular.

However, not unlike in other developing nations, handicraft industry here is also neglected and is facing many problems like shortage of funds as well as high-skilled workers.

Insiders revealed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain raw material as the prices have soared and the competition in export market getting tougher.

Sources say that lately rattan prices risen to VND10,000 ($0.6) from VND3,000 ($0.18) a kilo.

Bamboo and rattan woven products in the first six months of this year has dropped almost five percent over the same period last year at VND21.5 billion or US $1.3 million.

Infact, the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development stated that about 35-40 percent of rattan and bamboo product enterprises now face the risk of closure due to the shortage of raw materials.

It seems that only 30 percent of the locally produced bamboo is consumed by handicraft while rest goes to construction and related sectors.

Thus, Vietnam is forced to import raw materials from nearby countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia, where rates 15 to 20 percent higher.

Experts say that despite all the issues country's handicraft industry has tremendous potential.

Vietnam boasts one of the most developed and diverse bamboo and rattan craft industry in the world.

Of around 2,000 traditional craft villages in the country, there are 713 specializing in making woven products of bamboo and rattan.

Phu Vinh in Ha Noi's Chuong My District is one of the villages that has upgraded its handicraft to not only national but also to international stature.

Last year, total revenues from rattan and bamboo products in Phu Vinh was over VND40 billion ($2.4 million).

The traditional craft has created jobs for thousands of local people, with the average earning of a worker in this industry being around VND800,000 (US$48.5) per month, last year.

Thus, analysts say that Vietnam's handicraft industry is sure to grow leaps and bound with the help of little attention from the Government and other organization.

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