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Lao artisan making fans to blow poverty away 

Without having  careful observation of this paper fan, you may use it only for relieving the heat.
But this is a promotional brochure fan, made by Houaypamom village, Vangvieng district in Vientiane province. The fan is designed in uchiwa style, as some artisans from this community have been trained in the techniques of Japanese fan making.
The JICA Partnership Programme Kagawa International Cooperation Project is supporting Houaypamom villagers to produce fans through Fan Industry Promotion Programme in Laos. This activity aims to create additional income for villagers whose main jobs are farmer and fisherman.

Mr Fhongsamouth Phimmala shows the structure of a fan before gluing paper according to the customer’s order.

Manager of Production and Marketing Division of Houaypamom Forestry Training Centre, Mr Fhongsamouth Phimmala, said since the villagers started making fans for sale in 2013, the living standards of people who joined the project has been upgraded.
“Artisans have income from many ways, making them have sustainable income,” said Mr Fhongsamouth at the Lao Handicraft Festival which taking place from October 14-22. Most customers are foreigners who like handmade product. In addition, customers who open new offices also order Houaypamom artisan fans.
Most of the orders ask artisans to produce fans consisting of their company details. This means the fans have two benefits – relieving the heat and people can read the promotional information about a new company when attending an opening ceremony.
However, the fans are not that popular among Lao customers yet. “I think it’s because we don’t have good marketing and promotional strategies,” Mr Fhongsamouth said. “We want involved authorities to support the artisans by assisting to expand the market.”
To promote the fans, he will continue to show the product at various handicraft fairs. So far, he has already shown and sold the fans in Xayaboury province and the capital.
Today, almost 20 villagers of Houaypamom village, Vangvieng district in Vientiane province have joined the programme.
If there are many orders from customers, Mr Fhongsamouth will encourage other villagers to help stick the glue on the fans to ensure the products are finished on time.
Making fans is an extra job for villagers and the hope is it will become their main income in the future.
Fortunately, the Houapamom community has an abundance of bamboo stalks as the main raw material to produce fan (maiphaiban, maiphainam and maiphang).
To ensure the quality of fans, the age of bamboo stalks should be 2-3 years old for producing the structure of the fan. In addition to bamboo stalk for producing  the fan, glue, paper and nylon yarn are necessary materials.
According to the Fan Industry Promotion Programme, a structure for the continued sales of uchiwa fans in Laos  was established under phase 1 of the project which ran between 2012 and 2014. Following the completion of Phase 1, the programme then received a request for additional support in areas such as the further acquisition of uchiwa crafting skills as well as assistance in market expansion, all with the aim of continuing uchiwa production.
The second phase of the project will end in 2018. Local villagers Ms Bang Chanyakham and Ms La Xayachack hope the project will be continued to upgrade the skills of fan making in the years to come.
Further development of production scale and market reach should meet the local people’s needs and thus, the project believes it’s continuation will improve the livelihoods of those in the target area.


By Times Reporters
(Latest Update October 21 , 2017 )

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