Bamboo handicrafts from Kawhmu Township seeking for own identity of local products

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Local women are making traditional handicrafts made of bamboo materials in Kawhmu Township of Yangon Region as part of implementing One Village-One Product project. Photos: Nay Zaw

Dexterity in working with the hand and an art performed with the hands are seen. A woman named Ma San Thida from Letkhike village, Kawhmu Township, who is skilled in craft, is making a useful and beautiful bag made of bamboo materials.
“It is locally called wicker basket with lid in Yangon. These basket-like bags and purses are made. We used to wholesale and retail them. At present, in cooperation with the cooperative societies, we take orders,” she said.
“This bamboo handcrafting business helps me earn a living during the lack of unemployment triggered by the COVID-19 consequences,” Ma San Thida expressed her gratitude.
Kawhmu Township, where Ma San Thida lives, is one of the largest bamboo producing townships in Yangon Region. The locals are relying on handicraft businesses made of bamboo.
“There is no labour who depends on daily wages. The majority of the families here are executing this business on a manageable skill. Some villages are manufacturing bamboo trays and cover for circular slate called Kyaukpyin. The locals in Letkhike village are making bamboo purses,” Ma San Thida elaborated.
Yangon Region Department of Cooperative is implementing “One Village-One Product” (OVOP) projects in the eastern, northern and southern districts of Yangon Region with a view to enhancing the socio-economy of the local community and increasing job opportunities. Bamboo handicrafts in Kawhmu Township, Bawle fish paste in Taikkyi Township and broom in Hmawby Township are designated and the officials concerned are supporting the projects to yield successful results.
“OVOP project will explore markets with their own local product once tourism revives. It will create jobs for locals,” said Daw Ohnma Myint, director of the Yangon Region Department of Cooperative.
The cooperative society was formed with 15 artisans from Kawhmu Township to unite the co-ops and provide capitals at the set interest rate by the departments concerned in order for thriving bamboo handicraft businesses.
The Small-Scale Industries Department is providing technical assistance to the members of the society to boost product quality of handicraft and attract more buyers in the domestic market.
Moreover, the co-ops help explore markets and purchase the decorated handicrafts.
Staff Officer Daw Su Su Htwe of Kawhmu Township Department of Cooperative elaborated, “We have a plan to conduct courses to raise technical awareness of bamboo handcrafting in order to produce quality and unique designed products. Depending on the co-ops fund, raw materials are provided.”
She added that Kawhmu products are now supplied to the shops in Moe Oo Pan local products shop and other outlets in Yangon Region, other regions and states.
At present, traditional trays, consumer goods, soap cases, phone stands, tissue boxes, clocks, coffee cups and mugs, pots, purses, decorated baskets and other useful products in creative designs are produced in the villages of Kawhmu Township.
“Traditional bamboo handicrafts from Kawhmu Township are sold pretty well on a trial run. We will focus on market promotion on the potential products to build our own identity in each township in the 2022-2023 FY. The department is willing to patronize local products and expand the resources that the suppliers offer,” Director Daw Ohnma Myint of Yangon Region Department of Cooperative delightfully said.
Myanmar rural communities build the hats, fences and bridges and make furniture, kitchen utensils such as trays and baskets, musical instrument such as flute, xylophone and bamboo-clapper, lacquerware and other products from bamboo.
They are familiar with handcrafting with bamboo as it passed down from generations to generations.
The neighbouring countries also manufacture the value-added products and traditional handicrafts from bamboo materials. App the stakeholders in the bamboo supply chain are also exerting the concerted efforts for the finished bamboo products and raw materials to penetrate more external markets, promote Myanmar’s art and craft and enchant tourists.
Efforts are underway for bamboo from naturally grown plants in the rural areas to the value-added products which can expand the market share in the highly competitive market. It can also grow the economic benefits of the local community.
OVOP project expresses self-identity in each region and have contributions to rural development and State’s economic development.
Ma San Thida from Kawhmu Township gave a remark, “We have knacks and passion to build our own identity for our village, create successful and innovative products. As long as our business expands, we will generate a large income for the future.”

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