Smock weavers have called on government to establish a smock factory that would produce raw materials to ease the stress they go through in producing the fabrics. This, they say, would help engage more of the youths in the area and develop their entrepreneurial skills in weaving the fabric.
The sector, they noted, has for the past decades been on the rise due to the high demand for the product from both within and outside the country with over 2,000 persons, both the young and the old currently earning a living.
According to them, the patronage of the smock material, when sewn are known as Fugu or Batakari and raw fabrics, has been well recognized on the market both within and outside the country with many youths taking advantage to engage in online businesses.
The weavers believe that the ability for government to establish the factory would help access the raw materials at affordable prices to produce more quality local fabric to meet the high demand on the global market like the kente.
“Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, the business activities within the sector continue to thrive while we the youths make some amount of money for family upkeep and also our education,” they said.
Some of the weaving centers include Malshegu, Kumbuyili, First November, Gurugu, Shesheigu, Tishigu among others in the Sagenerigu Municipality as well as Low Cost, Abatay and others in the Yendi Municipality saw most of the youth weaving under trees where the weather conditions disrupt their activities during the summer and the raining season.
Some weavers and the sellers who spoke to the B&FT said the closure of schools has encouraged more youths, both male and female, to venture to engage in entrepreneurial skills of which many have completed from the training and started weaving or selling of the fabrics.
They are therefore calling on government, through the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), to extend support to the Smock Weavers Association, since that would enable them access the funds to sustain their businesses.
Salifu Yussif, a weaver, told the B&FT that the region is noted as the producer of the fabrics and that the youths in the area are also ready to venture into the sector with the little push.
“In spite of its contribution to the economy, successive governments have not been able to provide and maintain the favorable environment needed to boost the smock industry and therefore appealed to government and other investors to support the sector grow,” he appealed.