Cottage industry in the doldrums | Daily News


 

Cottage industry in the doldrums

Senavirathna Banda with the winnowing fans he made.  Picture by  A.A.L. DIAS
Senavirathna Banda with the winnowing fans he made. Picture by A.A.L. DIAS

During the last regime, almost all local industries collapsed due to the importation of goods which could be manufactured in the country and hundreds of families engaged in traditional industries in the Matale district bore the brunt of this downturn as their means of livelihood languished.

One such is the winnowing fan (kulla) manufacturing cottage industry. Decades ago, almost every household had an eco-friendly winnowing fan made of bamboo. But the item is now becoming an artifact. With the importation of winnowing fans made with metal sheets and plastic instead of reeds, it is possible to get it at a cheaper price from the market.

Now, the winnowing fan manufacturing industry is confined to two or three families in remote villages. They said that due to the difficulty in finding the raw material as well as the invasion of cheap imported substitutes, this local industry has declined sharply.

Senavirathna Banda, a 53-year-old traditional winnowing fan maker from Diggala village in the Kandapalla Korale in Matale district says: From my childhood, I used to make winnowing fans with my father. This is a job that my family has been doing for generations. At that time, many families in the village made winnowing fans. But later problems arose in this industry and many quit their jobs. Now, this is limited to two or three families.

Those days we bought a bamboo tube for Rs. 10. Today, it is Rs. 200, while the imported winnowing fans are very cheap. For this reason, our children do not like to take up this craft. So then, the day is not far off when this cottage industry will be buried with us.”


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