An Advanced Craft Skills training course for Mauritian artisans of the handicraft sector was launched yesterday at the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) in Coromandel in the presence of the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, and other eminent personalities.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Bholah recalled that this sector remains high on Government agenda with particular attention given to handicraft for its contribution in enriching the cultural heritage of the country. He underlined that the handicraft sector, characterised by authenticity and particular knowhow, is facing constraints and limitations at the level of production, design and marketing. He deplored that approximately 90% of handicraft products that are being sold at tourist outlets in Mauritius originate from Asian countries and Madagascar. It is thus essential to revive the sector, he said.
He underscored that quality, productivity, packaging and branding are key elements in revitalising the sector and maintaining its competitiveness. The conceptualisation of artisanal products in line with current market trends, and the constant innovation in this sector are essentially important so as to allow the local handicraft sector reassert itself, he added.
As regards the facilities that are being provided to artisans, Minister Bholah mentioned the setting up of a Handicraft Training Academy at the SMEDA in 2016, and the launching of the Creative Mauritius website in May 2017. The website is an online platform which aims to increase the visibility of craftsmen in Mauritius.
The Minister listed out some key measures announced in Budget 2017-2018 to boost the handicraft sector. These are: amending the Commodities Regulation 1981 to ensure that all products mandatorily display their country of origin to allow consumers, including tourists, to make an informed choice when making a purchase; and, introduction of a hologram to be affixed on all locally made handicraft products by SME Mauritius Ltd.
Advanced Craft Skills training
The course, an initiative of the Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, the SMEDA and the Mauritius Institute of Training and Development, aims at equipping local artisans with necessary tools to improve their crafting skills and promote the handicraft sector across Mauritius.
It has been tailored for artisans to further develop their capacities and explore their potential so as to better enhance their artisanal products. The training, spanning a period of six months, is financed by the SMEDA. Some 15 artisans are participating.