Weaving baskets to stay afloat
Rural basket makers in Chapainawabganj are spending busy hours as the baskets are now in high demand for packaging mangoes of the district, one of the largest producers of quality mangoes in the country.
The mango-based trade has changed the rural economy of the district, said the business people.
Although bamboo-made baskets are eco-friendly, some mango traders use plastic crates, they said.
Nazrul Islam, 65, of Ghorapakhia village in Sadar upazila, has been involved with the craft since he was 15.
He also said that the business was not good enough in last two years due to Covid-19 pandemic. The sale declined drastically during the pandemic time.
Imran Ali, 52, of the same village said that he was spending busy days making the baskets locally known as jhuri or tukri.
He added that he is able to make two or three big sized baskets and sell them at Tk 300 each. He will remain fully engaged in the craft for over three months and will earn Tk 45,000 during this period.
However, many people have left the work since plastic crates have replaced traditional baskets, he said.
The basket makers said that they have been involved with the profession for many generations and there are 150 families engaged in making the baskets. They expressed hope that they will turnaround this season.
Anarul Islam of neighbouring Bohrom village said that he makes small sized baskets and sell those at Tk 80 each. He earns over Tk 10,000 a month.
Shafiqul Islam, a wholesaler from Ghorapakhia village, said that he buys the baskets from the local makers and supplies to different areas in the North in mango season.
He said that he will earn over Tk 2 lakh selling baskets this season.
Robiul Islam, a member of Ranihati Union Parishad, said that Ghorapakhia village is now known as a village of basket makers.
Munjer Alam, secretary of Chapainawabganj Agri Association, said it has created job opportunities for many people.
Muhammad Nazrul Islam, deputy director of Department of Agricultural Extension, said this year 3 lakh 25 thousand tonnes of mangoes will be produced this season. Last year, over 2.60 lakh tonnes of mangoes were produced.