The Handicraft Development Program in West Sumatra is being completed in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as a means of facilitating economic recovery from the September 2009 earthquake. The project focuses specifically on promoting the growth and use of pandanuse and embroidery handicrafts in Padang Pariaman, and will run from January 2010-January 2011.
The goal of this program is to re-establish and develop handicraft businesses to evolve alongside the West Sumatran economy, post-earthquake. Prior to the program, pandanuse was being used only to make mats, which had been done traditionally and for many years. Women producers commonly started weaving only after completing their domestic chores. For many families, it was being used as a source of income only during the farming off-season and no administration, organization or management systems beyond basic practices were implemented.
The September 2009 earthquake lowered the number of embroidery customers and sales volume had been decreasing since. The earthquake also made it difficult to find employees because it devastated embroiders’ homes, which were no longer suitable for use as workplaces. Competitors from Java, especially Tasikmalaya, were coming to the markets with lower prices as compared with local producers. Customers were therefore choosing to buy embroidery products from Tasikmalayan producers. A lack of wider market access meant producers were trading only in the market in Bukit Tinggi. They had a weak bargaining position, meaning prices were lowered and products were returning less profit.
Producers were enthusiastic about receiving training to expand their existing skills and the local government in Padang Pariaman showed support for Pekerti’s proposal. Pekerti proposed a project to lift the communities’ spirits, deliver product design training in motifs appropriate with the market demand, hold production management and quality control training, business and group management training and form a cooperative to provide tools for pandan and embroidery handicrafts.
Producers’ expectations of the program included understanding expectations of themselves and their working conditions, problem-solving, new knowledge regarding their products and production process, job creation and a wider market in which to sell their products.
Throughout January – May 2010 producers received training in product development, expanding their skills to include 15 new pandan products. Alongside developing their production skills beneficiaries increased their knowledge of product management, costing pricing and quality control. Pekerti’s community development staff aided training participants to learn new dying techniques, 3-dimensional production techniques and group strengthening through the creation of group values and standards. Producer groups also reached agreement about their responsibilities in planting pandanuse trees on their own properties, to encourage sustainability in their production and prevent the diminishing of this raw material.
Please return to this page later for more information on the Handicraft Development Program in West Sumatra.