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Designs Key To Success of Basket Weaving Industry - ATAG   
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Ghana’s basket weaving industry can compete favourably in the international market if weavers pay attention to designs of the products, Bridget K. Darko, Executive Director of Aid to Artisan Ghana (ATAG) has said.

Speaking in an interview with Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of an exhibition to mark the end of an Indian Government sponsored training programme for 25 traditional basket weavers in Accra, Mrs Darko said the key to the industry’s success is to help weavers diversify their products.

She said the industry worldwide is undergoing a lot of changes in terms of research and technological advancement hence the need for Ghana to also build the capacity of players in the industry in order to remain competitive.

As part of the India Africa Summit-II held in May 2011, India offered a major design intervention to women basket weavers in five African countries, including Ghana.

The project is implemented by the internationally renowned National Institute of Design, (NID), Ahmedabad under the Department of Industrial Policy Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and is supported by the Ministry of External Affairs to empower rural weavers in the selected African countries.

So far, 20 weavers have been trained through workshops in the country and at NID. A group of 25 weavers also benefitted from the last workshop.

The project programme comprised three training workshops, a scoping field trip in the beneficiary country, and beneficiaries’ trip to India to participate in workshops at the NID, and a final workshop and exhibition in the beneficiaries' home country.

So far, a range of 30 products have been developed, which spans personal accessories and lifestyle products with interesting integration of leather and wood as secondary materials, adding further value to the products.

Mrs. Darko said the purpose of the initiative was to sensitively adapt the basket making traditions, practices and challenges facing Africa’s women basket weavers through drawing on the experience and knowledge of India’s traditional basketry craft and highly developed design sectors.

“With the aim of increasing income generation opportunities, the project scope includes training of trainers, collaboration on product development and product range diversification and brand building,” she said.

Mrs. Darko said the exposure had helped given the weavers the confidence to know that what they are doing is worthwhile.

Besides, participants had been taken through the design process, especially how to first draw their various shapes before actualizing them.

Participants, she said, had also learnt from the project the importance of consultation, which brings out the essence of team work in arriving at decisions to take.

There were also lessons on dyeing of the weaving materials to ensure they did not fade with time.

Mrs. Darko said the first action now is to send the products from the trained weavers up north and let their colleagues learn from it.

She said if the weavers seriously implement what they learnt from the Indian initiative, they would not only get local market but also be able to export to the international market.

Mr. Palash Singh, Design Researcher, who was a facilitator, said the programme was to help the weavers improve on their designs.
Source: GNA

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