Lagos — As unemployment rate still high in Nigeria, cane weaving business has been proffered as a way out, especially if government encourages teaching of the craft in schools.
The business, according to an investigation by Daily Trust, requires only about N50,000 to start, and training for only one to three months' to grasp the techniques.
Cane weaving business has been practiced for decades by the Deltans and in Lagos State.
Water cane is the major material skillfully weaved to make different beautiful designs of items that are beneficial to human life. These include baskets, furniture and a host of others.
While some people go for wood furniture, others prefer furniture from cane because the material is exquisite in nature.
Vice Chairman of the National Cane Weavers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Osoko Ohwoetiyi, said: "Our forefathers were doing this work and they taught us how to do it. When we finished secondary school, we decided to continue from where our fathers stopped as a business to cater for our families."
Setting up the business
As a beginner, if one wants to go into for furniture weaving, he can start with just N50,000, but if you want to go for all items in the designs, N500,000 will be more ideal, Mr. Osoko said.
We get the canes from Bayelsa, Rivers and Edo states and also from Epe in Lagos State, but the materials from Epe are the breaking ones. We also have willow cane. Of course we also use wood, nails and gas to get whatever shape we desire. For example, to make the coconut chair, we use gas to get the roundish.
A bunch of cane is bought for about N900 with which you make two baskets in order to make profitable.
Acceptability of cane furniture
We have different designs now courtesy of foreign catalogues, unlike when we started with only small flower baskets and garden chairs. We now make designs that can compete with foreign cane designs and even better than what the whites are doing. We are now producing yam baskets, baby cots, dining sets, flower stands, beds, chairs and tables as well as other numerous designs.
Nigerians accept cane work because we produce even for those who could not afford carpentry work. Cane work is very good, less expensive, natural, easy to maintain and very durable. With about N50.000 or less you have a complete set of living room chairs of cane work. So, many people patronise us.
Cane products can last for 10-15 years depending on how they are maintained.
We have been crying for help especially in the area of financing but none is in sight. The small scale assistance programme is not reasonable to me because, how can a micro finance bank give a N30,000 as loan for business to a group of people. To me the money is too small, if anybody gives me such amount, you are giving to buy foodstuff in my house.
What we want the government or financial authority to actually do for us is to give us a site where we can make a cane village.
Though this place is referred to as Cane Village, Mende Maryland, to me this is not a proper place because it is under bridge. So government should assist us by giving us a permanent site that we can develop to even become one of the tourist centre in Nigeria.
The business is very lucrative, one can make double his investment in one month. If you invest N500,000, in one month you can make double that amount.
Government should explore opportunities in this business. It should assist us so we can also talk of exportation because what we have is far better than what the Whites people produce from cane.
About 10 graduates are here doing this business with us because when they finished from higher institution there was no job, so they came and learnt this work and became good in it so they forget about white collar jobs because they are making money here. Some have even married, others with children.
Mende is our headquarters we have other branches and here we have about 200 members both men and women doing this cane weaving business.
We choose this state because we know that Lagos is the centre of business in Nigeria while Abuja has much restrictions as the seat of power.