An unsteady market,
limited sources of capital and rising material costs have
led to many handicraft households in the central provinces
of Thua Thien Hue and
Quang Nam to look for new jobs.
Government efforts to preserve and expand the handicrafts
sector across the country, as well as to help provide new
jobs for the increasing ranks of landless farmers, concerns
have been raised that some handicraft villages are in danger
Only 12 out of 88 handicraft villages in Thua Thien Hue
Province report good business, while the remainder have
suffered from losses, according to local authorities.
Once-famous handicraft centres like Phuoc Tich pottery
village in Phong Dien District, My Xuyen wood-carving and
Hien Luong metalwork villages in Phong Dien District are all
now in trouble.
"My family have never been in such misery like we are
in now," said Le Thi Vong, 76, a pottery artisan from
Phuoc Tich pottery village in Phong Dien District.
Vong, who continues her family's long tradition of
producing pottery, says she is now considering quitting the
"The price of material has increased more and more
while we can not sell enough of our products," she
says. "Maybe I'll quit the job."
The ancient tradition of pottery in the village is in danger
of being lost. There are now only 18 elderly people in the
village who keep the handicraft alive, while most young
people have left for regional centres to earn a living.
In Phuong Duc bronze-casting village in Hue City, around 60
per cent of enterprises have closed during recent times
leading to the loss of dozens of labouring jobs.
Nguyen Tien Long, deputy chairman of Phuong Duc Ward's
People's Committee, says local enterprises have limited
sources of capital, and have been forced to limit their
business to small-scale production or close down.
"They have had to increase their products' prices to
make up for the increasing price of bronze," says Long.
"That's why they have found it harder to sell their
Nguyen Van Hy's bronze-casting enterprise, which used to
export products to various places in the world and train
hundreds of bronze casters, has closed temporarily and Hy
says he can't pay back a bank loan.
"The price of bronze has doubled since last year to
reach VND100,000 (US$5.9) per kg now," says Hy.
"Our enterprise has suffered serious losses because we
have had to increase prices. As a consequence, fewer people
want to buy our products."
Among 61 handicraft villages in Quang Nam Province, many
have met financial difficulties and thousands of labourers
have been left unemployed.
Lam Yen drum-making village in Dai Loc District, for
example, is close to losing its traditional craft for good.
Households in the village have been struggling with a
serious lack of capital.
Phan Lam, who is part of a family renowned locally for
making drums, says the biggest challenge for local
handicraft workers is getting paid.
"When the buyers receive their products, they pay only
for half of the products at first," he says.
"So producers have to borrow money at a high interest
rate to ensure production. Many of them now can not borrow
any more money.
"There's nothing to ensure the next generation can
continue the trade."
Deputy chairman of Phuong Duc bronze-casting village says
the trade has not contributed much to the local budget.
"That's why we have no solutions to save the
trade," he says.
In Quang Nam Province, authorities have not helped villages
with backward production facilities, a poorly-qualified
labour force and high material prices.
However, many handicraft villages in Quang Nam Province have
succeeded in combining traditional handicraft with tourism.
Since 2003, Hoi An International Travel Centre, with
infrastructure support from the province's authorities,
has set up the A Day As An Old Quarter Resident tour, which
has taken thousands of tourists, both domestic and foreign,
to handicraft villages like Tra Que vegetable-growing
village, Kim Bong wood-carving village and the silk
lantern-making village in Hoi An town.
(Source: Viet Nam News)