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Rural craftsmen at their wit's end

24
Dec '08
Vietnam has a very vibrant handicraft industry and the roots of the sector are spread across the country from urban to more particularly the rural areas. Infact it is the rural areas more so, which are helping in keeping alive the age old traditions in the country. Exports of handicrafts are also doing very well, thanks to these artisans. Handicraft exports in 2007 stood at US $824 million.

But now, the global economic crisis is even touching the lives of poor artisans and people living in rural hinterlands and who have been eking out a living by creating beautiful handicraft products for exports. Since the beginning of the meltdown in September, there has been a sharp slowdown in shipments of handicrafts from Vietnam.

The main handicraft items meant for exports are made from raw materials like bamboo and rattan and which commanded a very good market in the western countries. But now with the drop in consumer spending witnessed in these very markets, the sky has fallen for these talented but poor artisans. With the upcoming Tet festival within sniffing distance, the artisans are becoming desperate and are swilling to sell at whatever rates they are able to sell at.

According to industry sources, the situation is expected to worsen in the up coming new year and if the situation persists for long, the traditional craftsmen and women will be forced to look for alternative sources of employment which in the long run will lend a crushing blow to the industry, as once a artisan leaves the industry and finds better opportunities in other sectors, there is very less likelihood of him or her returning back to the handicrafts industry.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India


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