Rural youth in Ghana develop fashionable woven bamboo bags
INBAR recent training session in Ghana focused on bamboo weaving and product development.
INBAR has trained 50 young women and men in bamboo weaving and product development. The training, which occurred from 3-17 June 2021 involved members from the Bompata community in the Asante Akim South Municipal in Ashanti Region of Ghana. Within a period of 14 days, participants learnt how to harvest and process bamboo for weaving, and also developed fashionable handbags using local fabric.
Participants were taken through several practical modules including bamboo harvesting and treatment, weaving techniques, bamboo design and innovation, the use of tools and equipment for processing bamboo, and material requirements for making handbags. The final products made by the trainees demonstrate their newly acquired skills in bamboo weaving handbag design. The unit selling price of the bamboo bags may cost between USD 10 – 17. With the acquired skills, beneficiaries can produce at least 10 bags in a month and earn an averagely of about USD 170 per month. This is twice the current Ghana national minimum wage of USD 2.20 per day or US$64 per month.
Aside from the knowledge and skills transfer the training provided to beneficiaries, also empowered them to mobilise and form associations to sustain and establish similar bamboo-based businesses. Beneficiaries will also play key roles as trainers and transfer their knowledge and skills to others.
To maintain the momentum, beneficiaries of the handbag training have formed a cooperative named the Bamboo Weavers Association of Bompata. This innovative grouping is a strong indication of the beneficiaries’ commitment to translating their new skills into business opportunities. Such an association will also help attract additional financial and material support from financial institutions, development agencies and donor organisations. INBAR in collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency, Rural Enterprise Programme and the Asante Akim South Municipal Assembly will provide material support and technical skills for beneficiary communities as they organize themselves to form associations and create bamboo-based businesses.
At the closing ceremony, participants exhibited their bamboo-based products made during the training session. The ceremony was graced by representatives from the Member of Parliament’s office (Asante Akim South Constituency), the Municipal Chief Executive’s office and the Chief’s Palace. The community representative of the municipality was also present at the closing event.
Ghana bamboo enterprise sector
Though Ghana is making steady progress with the development of its bamboo enterprise, the emerging industry is still faced with multiple challenges such as the lack of technical know-how; inadequate access to bamboo tools and machinery for processing; limited or poor training in bamboo processing and product design by craftsmen, no or limited access to financial credit; permanent production sites, marketing and weak leadership. These challenges have limited the artisans’ capacity to convert bamboo into valuable products that can transform their livelihoods and improve their income.
INBAR West Africa Regional Office is working through the Inter-Africa programme with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development to address these challenges to ensure new sustainable income streams using wider applications of bamboo innovative practices to empower the youth and women in rural communities. Within the coming months, INBAR plans to equip 1000 beneficiaries from various parts of the country with skills in bamboo furniture making and bamboo-based products. Important to this action will be the setting up of bamboo enterprises and developing business ideas for bamboo industrialization in the country.