Two-week Guwahati upskilling training boosts Zhemgang community’s bamboo and banana craftmanship

Zhemgang is abundant with cane, bamboo plants, and banana trees. These resources can be crafted into traditional handicrafts and used in modern construction and furniture. However, communities lack the necessary skills to work with these materials. To address this, about 20 participants from Zhemgang recently took part in a two-week upskilling training in Guwahati, Assam, India.

Participants, mostly out-of-school youths and farmers, trained at the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation’s craft incubation centre to make products from cane, bamboo, and water hyacinth.

Participants said they gained insights on transforming available resources into high-value products.

Over the two-week course, they learned to craft bags from banana fibers and water hyacinth, as well as pencil stands, lamp holders, and trays from bamboo and cane.

“We have received a space from the district. We will go back and teach interested youth the different designs we learned here,” said Pema Wangchuk, a participant.

“This is a good opportunity. I may not be able to open a shop, but we should not stop here and let the training we received go to waste. Once we gain the required expertise, we can do a lot with it,” said Sangay Wangdi, another participant.

“I am thinking about teaching community members the skills I learned here and working collaboratively with them,” said Dorji Dema, also a participant.

“I had never made or even seen such crafts before joining this programme,” said Tandin Tshewang, a participant.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation said that participants can contact their mentors in Guwahati for any support in crafting their products.

He added that the corporation could also send trainers to Bhutan for a month to guide the artisans.

“It would be really helpful if the government could provide us with more training on crafting diverse products. The raw materials are readily available in our country, and we need a well-trained teacher to guide us to learn more,” said Tshering Yeshey, a participant.

“Bhutan does not have the population to consume the craft products within Bhutan but they can export to India, which has a big market. So, if Bhutan produces more products, it can resort to online platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart for marketing the products. NEDFi has also started online marketing and they have seven outlets across the country, so we can render support to the craft products from Bhutan,” said PVSLN Murthy, chairman & managing director of NEDFi, Guwahati, India.

The two-week upskilling programme is a collaboration between the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited and the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

The BCCI vice president said that such an initiative will further strengthen ties between Bhutan and India.

“We have cane and bamboo resources in our country. Such training would be beneficial for our youth’s self-employment, economic well-being, and livelihood. Witnessing the results of their training is commendable,” said Ugyen Dorji, vice president of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This was the first upskilling training held in Guwahati for Bhutanese participants.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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