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Machine-made mats threaten traditional weavers
28
Aug '09
A traditional craft of mat-weaving by hand in Cambodia is under threat due to the mat-weaving machines. These machine manufactured mats are imported from Vietnam and Thailand. These machines can work faster and cheaper.

It is only the quality of the mats that they weave, inherited from her forefathers and which will be passed on to future generations will help them survive and will guarantee the future of the family business, says a craftswoman.

Further she added that as people in Vietnam and Thailand manufacture mats, using machines, the hand-made mats of Cambodia cannot compete with them, with regards to price and designs. But, in terms of quality, the hand-made mats can compete with machine-made products, she said.

Her mat-weaving business sells 200 to 250 mats per month in peak periods, at US $4-7.50, each. The sale goes up, especially during the traditional Cambodian wedding season, Khmer New Year and the Pchum Ben holiday.

During recession, the Cambodian consumers shift to cheaper machine-made mats from Vietnam and Thailand. This has resulted in fall in production of hand-made mats from 8-10 mats per day to 3-4 mats.

These hand-made mats are sold in Takeo, Kampot and Kandal provinces, besides, local markets and also have supply agreements with most major markets in Phnom Penh.

The mat weavers were tempted to drop prices to compete with machine made mats, but it has proved to be devastating for the few who did so, due to the high cost of raw materials, which sometimes has to be brought in from other provinces and the already low margins.

The craft workers here need assistance from the Cambodian Government as well as local and International NGOs in order to obtain guidance from international experts to develop new designs and improve the quality of the mats to compete with international products.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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