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Ethnic Khmer handicraft villages expand in Tra Vinh

Three ethnic Khmer handicraft villages in Tra Vinh province’s Tra Cu district have expanded over the last four years due to high demand and support from local authorities.

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ethnic khmer handicraft villages expand in tra vinh hinh 0
Ham Tan sedge mat weaving village in Tra Vinh province’s Tra Cu district has produced items for nearly 100 years.

Two of the handicraft villages are in Dai An and Ham Giang communes, as well as the sedge mat weaving village in Ham Tan commune.

The Dai An handicraft village uses bamboo to make tables, chairs, baskets, fish catching tools and other houseware items as well as souvenirs and decorative items for houses, entertainment places and resorts.

The Ham Giang handicraft village also uses bamboo to produce high-class beds, tables, chairs and other houseware items, all in high demand by restaurants and tourism sites.

To improve transport to the three villages, the province spent more than VND9.6 billion (US$410,000) to build nine concrete roads with a total length of 8.2km, according to the province’s Department of Industry and Trade.

Thach Chi Na, who makes houseware items in Ham Giang handcraft village, said with the province’s support, many households making handicraft products in the village have worked since 2015 to set up a handicraft cooperative team.

The village products sell locally and in provinces including Ben Tre, Soc Trang, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu, he said.

Workers at the village have an average daily income of VND200,000 – 250,000 (US$8.6 – 10.7).

Last year, the Department of Industry and Trade gave VND404 million (US$17,300) to a household producer Tri Canh in Ham Giang handicraft village to build a workshop, buy facilities and provide vocational training for its 20 workers. 

In the first quarter of the year, the department offered consultancy to Tri Canh to set up its showroom, design its logo and make new products.

In Dai An handicraft village, more than 60 locals are making handicraft products.

According to Do Van Dung, Vice Chairman of the Dai An commune People’s Committee, production cannot meet the high demand. Products such as baskets, flower vases and flower baskets are favoured by tourists, restaurants and hotels.

The village earned total revenue of VND6 billion (US$257,000) from selling handicraft products last year.

However, the two villages are facing a shortage of materials as locally grown bamboo only meets 30% of their needs.  

Most bamboo materials have to be bought from other provinces, causing high production costs.

In Ham Tan sedge mat weaving village, locals have produced various types of sedge mats for nearly 100 years.

The village is famous for its high-quality white-coloured sedge mats and colored, patterned sedge mats.

Ham Tan has more than 2,250 households. Of these, 478 of them weave mats and 91 grow sedge for making mats.

The village produces more than 140,000 sedge mats a year.

Normally, two people working together can weave two sedge mats measuring 2 metres long by 1.6 metres a day and earn a profit of VND60,000 -70,000 (US$2.5 – 3).

Lieng Phuoc Thien, Chairman of the Ham Tan commune People’s Committee, said: “In Ham Tan, most people know weaving sedge mats. Besides working on fields, people use their free time to weave sedge mats.”

The commune has also provided money for locals to buy sedge for weaving mats or to plant sedge to increase income.

The province’s researchers have also created mat weaving machines to weave mats more quickly compared to manual weaving.

It also has helped villagers buy mat weaving machines to improve productivity.

Tran Minh Canh in Ham Tan was provided with 50% of the cost of buying a mat weaving machine, worth VND35 million (US$1,500) in 2016.

The mat weaving machine helped his family weave 10 to 12 sedge mats a day.

Previously, his family could only make four sedge mats a day via manual weaving.

The commune now has five mat weaving machines.

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