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US $80,000 From Baskets?   
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Nyariga community is estimated to be earning about 80,000 dollars every year from the sale of locally woven baskets in the US.

The entire community is engaged in weaving baskets, hats and leather works and their products are old to “The Blessing Basket” and “Whole Foods Market,” companies in the US, that in turn invest all the profit they make from the basket business into development projects in the community.

This was said at the inauguration of a GH¢30,000 work centre at Nyariga, comprising a hall that has a capacity to take 170 people weaving or doing leather work, two store rooms and an office.

Ms. Theresa Wilson, Founder and Executive Director of the Blessing Basket Project, USA, said she noticed the potential of the basket weaving industry in the community five years ago but realized that there was no reliable market for the products.

She therefore went into partnership with the community to buy their baskets at a price higher than the prevailing market value for export to the USA where the Whole Food Market, took up the responsibility to retail the products.

Ms. Wilson said the two companies therefore decided to plough back the profit they made into the community.

So far, money the basket business has given Nyariga a bore-hole, school block for Junior High School and women’s club craft centre as well as the new weaving centre.

She said a programme to send back young people from the community who had gone to the south to look for work also proved successful as 16 young adults were sent back and assisted to engage in basket weaving.

Ms. Wilson said the community had been very enthusiastic and hard working and that had helped to improve their living standards.

Madam Afaama Asariga, a representative of the women, narrated the difficulties she used to go through more than five years ago, trying to pay school fees for her children.

She said with the good market for her baskets, she not only pays school fees easily but is able to cultivate one hectare of rice and tomatoes during the dry season and owns a mobile phone.

Mad Asariga said many of her colleague women had gone into animal husbandry and were supporting their families.

Mr. Mark Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister who inaugurated the Centre, commended the two companies for the good work they were doing for the community.

He urged the people not to be complacent but to work harder and ensure that their children enrolled in schools and stayed to further their education.

Madam Marcia Whelan, representative of the Whole Foods Market, said all the people involved in selling the baskets in USA were happy to help the community and would continue to do so.
Source: GNA

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