Bamboo and rattan workshop: An international experience for craftsmen

Friday, 4 October 2013 02:45 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By P. Waruni A workshop on bamboo and rattan product development is being held from 28 September to 7 October at the National Design Centre in Katubedda, Moratuwa. The event is organised by the National Craft Council (NCC) in collaboration with the Indonesian Embassy of Sri Lanka. The inauguration of the workshop was held under the patronage of Acting Secretary Mangalika Adikari   and with the guidance of pre-eminent designers of Indonesian bamboo and rattan. NCC Chairman Buddhi Keerthisena stated that with the participation of 26 designers, the event will work towards introducing new technological developments into the industry of bamboo and rattan as well as will establish new techniques for the designers to work on. Bamboo and rattan are considered non-timber forest products. These products are popular the world over, have enormous earning potential and are a source of income for poor artisans who have been engaged in this craft for centuries. The stem of the giant varieties of bamboo are used for making decorative craft items. The ‘bata’ or bamboo smaller variety that grows in the southern and western regions is used for making a variety of baskets. It is mostly women who practise these crafts though entire families are something engaged in it as a means of procuring a livelihood in Sri Lanka. Most of the products are made for the local market. Indonesia provides a majority of the world’s rattan. Approximately 60% of this goes to processing and manufacturing industries in Hong Kong and a further 20% is shipped to Singapore.  Entrepreneurs in both these countries make massive profits re-exporting raw rattan or assembling and exporting furniture and handicrafts. The value of Indonesian raw rattan cleaned, sulphur-treated and re-exported from Hong Kong in 1970 was 24 to 28 times the amount received by the Indonesian exporter of washed, dried, and sulphur-treated whole rattan. The local designers acquire the indispensable skills and knowledge to use new instruments of bamboo and rattan through the workshop. The Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board (LAKSALA), the sponsor of the workshop, is working towards opening doors for the innovative finished products by the designers.