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Weavers raw over rising silk prices

The nation's weavers have raised concerns about rising costs of raw silk to the highest levels as prices of finished products made from the treasured textile remain seasonally low.

The issue of rising input costs is a perturbing one for many of those working with silk such as the weaving group of Ang Namhoum village in Naxaithong district of the capital that was the focus of a Prime Ministerial visit last week.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith led a government delegation visit to the group to receive an update on efforts to deal with price fluctuations and discuss promotion of Lao silk products in foreign markets.

The group currently comprises almost 100 member weavers with average per capita income of around 1.5 million kip a person per month.

The group is weaving various silk products including skirts ( sinh ) and bodices and related accessories for sale in the domestic market and tailored in response to customer orders.

Most of the group's products are being sold at Khuadin market, the capital's main market.

The price disparity between raw and finished silk is one with which weavers are struggling, group consultant Ms Vilayphone Bongsouvanhdy told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The lowest price for silk products is 25,000 kip a piece to 500,000 kip for the highest, Ms Vilayphone said.

With the rainy season and Buddhist Lent underway, the asking prices for finished products are discounted 15,000-20,000 kip per item to account for the relative pause in demand due to the lesser number of traditional and cultural ceremonies at this time of year, she said.

The price is set to return to normal after the end of Buddhist Lent as many formal occasions are organised, including baci ceremonies and weddings in particular.

Despite fluctuations in product prices, the price of raw silk has tended to increase continually, Ms Vilayphone said.

She said the answer could be to get certification for their production.

“If we can be a One District, One Product (ODOP) member, we would be better placed to find new markets and partners for business,” she said.

The weaving group has been underway in a formal capacity since 1998, with most of the people tracing roots and weaving traditions to hometowns in Huaphan and Xiengkhuang provinces.

The work of the group is well known and has provided a good income for the women to buy necessary things, save for the future and spend on their daily household needs.

As competition from foreign products increases amid an expanding domestic and regional economy, Lao silk products continue to face challenges to make the most of the international market opportunities on offer.

While Laos has long had a tradition and culture of weaving silk items, most of the nation's weavers still lack for experience and the skill to design modern products for sale to respond to consumer demand.

Despite the obstacles, Lao textile and silk products are increasingly being exported as premium products to high-value markets, and this heritage is also attracting more visitors to the country.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 14, 2017)

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