Prosper Ndlovu in Dubai, UAE
THE on-going Expo 2020 Dubai has opened a lucrative window for rural Zimbabwean women and handcrafters to connect with the global market, which has a higher appetite for such products.
Rural women generally constitute a majority of producers of basketry items and textile embroidery related products, with men coming in more on stone and wooden sculpturing among other traditional artefacts.
These are selling like hot cakes here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where Zimbabwe has been fully participating since October last year, among 191 States. The global trade and investment exhibition ends this month.
In an interview yesterday, the director representing the National Handcraft Centre under the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mr Martin Kwaramba, said Binga and Lupane in Matabeleland North province, Masvingo and the Midlands, were the biggest sources of handicraft work.
He said since they came to the expo, basketry products have been selling like hot cakes as buyers sought for more and are keen to expand export links.
“Basketry products are in high demand here followed by wooden and stone sculpture plus textile crocheting,” said Mr Kwaramba.
“The bulk of the items we brought here have been finished and we have ordered more to be brought with the consignment from home,” he said.
“All these products are coming from different handcrafters in the country, mainly from Binga, Hwange and Lupane, Masvingo and the Midlands as well as Buhera in Manicaland. Bulawayo has been very good at stone work.”
Globally the art and craft sector is fast gaining momentum on the export front with official figures showing that Zimbabwe was able to rake in US$5,2 million earnings from the sector between January and August last year.
Through ZimTrade, the Government is working closely with players in the sector at home to unlock its wider potential and contribution to the mainstream economy.
In this regard, Mr Kwaramba said Expo 2020 Dubai has become an eye opener regarding the potential of the handicraft sector in terms of its contribution to job creation and mainstream national economy.
“This platform has opened numerous opportunities for us as we now know that there is a vast market for our products,” he said.
“While we have been having some exports to countries like the Netherlands, UK, Japan and the USA, the Dubai expo has enabled us to widen our market and through it we should be able to penetrate the Asian market and the Gulf region.
“The market feedback is that products from Zimbabwe are good and they use them for interior decor in hotels and other high places.”
Mr Kwaramba said the widening of the export market for handicraft produce was good news for Zimbabwe as it enhances empowerment of ordinary people.
He said going forward the country was keen to secure distribution agencies with Dubai buyers so that these products are marketed far and wide.
“This means we have to train our handicraft communities to be more organised in order to tap into these global platforms.
“There is also a need to work out on issues of packaging and appeal,” said Mr Kwaramba.
“We will seek more partnership and ensure adequate training and capacity building.”
Here at the Expo 2020 Dubai handicraft products are being exhibited on a separate stand and largely constitute a range of basketry items, doil work, wooden and stone sculpture, textile bags and wiring artistic artefacts, among others.
Article Source: The Chronicle