Orders for eco-friendly handicrafts resume | Sunday Observer
Lanka’s potential enormous

Orders for eco-friendly handicrafts resume

Niluka Jayanthi
Niluka Jayanthi

?Orders for handicrafts are being received again after the lifting of the lockdown, Niluka Jayanthi, a? well known local female entrepreneur manufacturing plastic-free and eco-friendly handicrafts using water hyacinth plants also known as Japan Jabara, an invasive species in Sri Lanka, told Sunday Observer Business on Friday.

She said prior to the Covid-19 pandemic she manufactured nearly 250 units per day. “However, production had to be halted following the spread of Covid-19 in the country,” she said, adding that business will pick up as she had received inquiries from abroad.

Niluka said that the Government spends around Rs. 100,000 to destroy water hyacinth plants that clog Sri Lanka’s reservoirs.? “But we can create products worth Rs. 500, 000 by using these plants,” she said.

With the raw materials needed to create her products freely available, Niluka only has one request for assistance from the government or a well wisher.

?“I need to obtain better technical knowledge to develop my products and improve its standards,” she said.

Noting that Vietnam and Cambodia make similar products using the plant, to a higher standard, Niluka is confident she will replicate this if she is provided with technical knowledge.

“I hope the Government or someone will assist me in this as I can help other rural women in return,” she said.

?Niluka who had a penchant for natural products said she took to? manufacturing? plastic-free and eco-friendly handicrafts seeing its enormous potential for export. A resident of Ehetuwewa, Galgamuwa, Niluka uses the plant freely available in local reservoirs to create a range of products including handbags, backpacks and even wedding cake boxes.

According to Niluka, who previously made cloth bags, the products made using the treated stalks of the water hyacinth are strong and long lasting.

Niluka said she created products using the plant realising that her previous products were not unique and did not stand out in the market among similar products.

“Having seen a purse made of water hyacinth stalks I attempted to make bags and other products using the same material,” she said.

?Niluka has not only introduced products made of the invasive species to the Sri Lankan market, but has also works to improve the livelihoods of women in her community.

“I realised the women in my village can create these products from home and therefore, I trained a large number of women to make various parts needed to make bags and other products,” she said.Women in Ehetuwewa now make various parts needed for the products which are later assembled by Niluka and her team to make the finished product.