MASINDI – More than 50 handcraft makers have been trained on making quality products which can meet the international standard.
The handcraft makers who were drawn from Masindi, Hoima, Kiryandongo, Pakwach, Gulu, Greater Kibaale and Bulisa have undergone a two-day training conducted by Handcraft and Souvenir Development Project (HSDP) Uganda at Masindi Kolping Hotel. The project is implemented by the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities.
“The objective of the training is to ensure that people engaged in handcraft make products that meet the international standards. The Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities wants to uplift Uganda handcrafts to higher standards to start tapping into the international market,” said Grace Mbabazi the Project Coordinator of the handcraft and Souvenir Development Project in Uganda.
She added that the three-year project which started in 2019 is funded by Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Geneva has produced marketing strategies, conducted trainings, done a baseline survey and also assessed the challenges affecting the sector among other things.
She implored the people engaged in the activity to improve on the quality of the products saying that the market is available.
“We don’t want to see visitors coming to Uganda buying products from the neighboring countries and yet they can be bought from here. We don’t want to see these things being imported and yet we have abundant raw materials here,” Mbabazi explained.
She also underscored the need for the people engaged in handcraft making to apply for fair trade certification to enable them easily access the international market.
Rita Karungi, the Masindi district Tourism Officer says, there are many people who are engaged in handcraft making in Masindi but they are disintegrated.
“They’re many in the district but they don’t know each other. They all work in isolation and not organized in associations. But following this training, we are going to organize them,” she explained.
Karungi also commended HSDP for training the people who are engaged in handcraft making, noting that it came at a right time people are embracing the business.
“As a Tourism Officer, I am going to engage Masindi Municipality Authorities such that I can be able to secure a place where these people can be working from. This will enable the tourists to be able to trace for them in case there’s need,” Karungi said.
Richard Kiiza, the Principal Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Masindi district said, the capacity of the people engaged in the activity need to be built and boosted financially such that they can invest in their businesses.
“They need to use machines to improve on the quality of the products produced. Doing this work without the use of the machines may not enable them achieve their desired expectations,” Kiiza explained.
He added that as a district, they are going to use the regional industrial hub being constructed in Masindi to ensure that young people get the skills.
Kiiza added that after opening their eyes, the people engaged in handcraft should come together and start applying for different grants which are always at the district under different government programs.
“We are going to embark on sensitizing them to form associations such that they can tap money from the government to boost their businesses,” he noted.
Prosy Isingoma Flora, from Masindi Art and Craft project which is implemented under Bunyoro Youth Development Network said, after understanding the benefits of getting together and producing quality products, they’re going to unite by forming different associations.
“We have understood that we are lacking a lot as far as producing quality products is concerned. In these associations, we are going to be able to conduct trainings within ourselves because we have understood that working in isolation will not help us at all,” Isingoma noted.
Evas Tibananuka, the Bunyoro Miss Tourism called on the youth to embrace the handcraft activities and form associations instead of wasting time doing unproductive things.
The participants were taken through the principals of fair-trade certification and standards among other things.
Allan Chrispus Ategeka, the HSDP Project Assistant said, they want to help Ugandans produce authentic products through conducting different trainings of the people engaged in the business.
“We want to see that the producer gets a good price for what he or she has produced. That’s the reason we are empowering them.”
He added that they are also going to construct a production centre for Boomu Women’s group at the entrance of Murchison falls National Park in Labongo sub-county in Masindi district.
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