The creation of a viable and sustainable handicraft industry can contribute immensely to the Gross Domestic Product, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe has said. She said art and craft could also be used to counter the effects of climate change as rural communities diversify their income and livelihood base rather than depend solely on farming.
The First Lady said this during the re-launch of the National Handicraft Development and Marketing Centre in Harare last week. The NHD is administered by the Small to Medium Enterprises and C-operatives Development ministry.
"There is a need to continue identifying craft producers and train them in new product designs and development. I wish to exhort all the practitioners in the art and crafts industry to explore new markets locally, regionally as well as internationally through participation at exhibitions," she said.
She also urged them to use trade agreements Zimbabwe entered with the international community.
"For example, under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) you can export your goods duty free to the European Union.
"As a country, we have a comparative advantage as far as art and craft is concerned, so let us exploit this opportunity," she said.
The re-launch, she said, coincided with Zimbabwe's hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation conference in Victoria Falls.