Hard times for decorative handicraft business (BIZ PAGE)

As the decorative handicraft business slowly ceases to find buyers, entrepreneurs in this field are in search of alternative ways of making income. The business, so popular among an elite class of people is facing hard times.

After the training given by the Skill Development Training Centre (SDTC), with the aim of utilising scattered manpower and local resources in order to earn their livelihoods, houses, temples, photo-frames, letterboxes and other products were manufactured in large quantities out of bamboo strips throughout the district, say people involved in the business.

"Among 103 people in the district, who had been trained in decorative handicraft production, only a limited number are actually involved in the business, since the market is still scarce," says Ram Kumar Rai, a trainer at SDTC Gajuri.

As the skill to produce quality handicrafts is developing, production is carried out, but the scarcity of the market leads them to eventually divert their ways of earning a living, president of Cottage and Small Industries Federation (CSIF) Dhading, Balaram Lamsal expressed grief for not finding a market for these cottage products.

Entrepreneurs are accusing the government of failing to effectively manage markets and to determine suitable market prices for cottage products. Therefore, entrepreneurs have been forced to change their outlook.

Ram Kumar Marahattha, who was trained by SDTC, still sells decorative handicrafts but he is not satisfied with the price he can ask in return for his hard labour and ultimately the insufficient market for such products. Likewise Rajkumar Shrestha of Sangkosh informed that he is fed up with this business, as he could not make enough money to cover his expenses.

Decorative handicrafts are never bought twice by the same client and to get another client for the same product, it takes a long time, which is precious to the producer. For this reason, this type of business is decreasing says Jagannath Nepal, Advisor of CSIF, Dhading.

However Gokarna Rupakheti of Goganpani seems quite optimistic. "It is obvious to express discontentment in such a critical situation. Tourist arrivals have decreased, but one should not be put out for not having had favourable conditions for a few months only."

Head of the training centre at Gajuri, Yubaraj Gurung also asked entrepreneurs to learn to be patient, because the market is bound to pick up once circumstances change.