Ghor craftswomen worried about declining carpet sales

FIROZKOH (Pajhwok): A number of women in central Ghor province are worried about declining sales of their hand-woven carpets and are urging the government to save the ancient industry and find market for their products.

Having a very ancient history, the carpet and rug weaving industry is one of the most important handicrafts of rural women in Ghor province. But now these women are complaining about government’s negligence to help thrive the carpets market.

Sharifa Hussaini, a mother of seven children, has been weaving carpets since last 15 years. She told Pajhwok Afghan News that their sales were on the decline with each passing day because they still worked in the traditional way and needed to be further trained.

“Currently people demand carpets with new and advanced designs, but we cannot provide any advanced products due to limited resources and lack of accessibility to new tools”, she said.

“I started weaving carpets 15 years ago, there was a high demand for carpets in the initial years; but we currently have limited customers, because people want better carpets with new designs while our work is still traditional, the government should support us to find market for our products,” she added.

Hussaini recalled they would sell several carpets in a month, but currently a single carpet could be hardly sold during the same period.

Meanwhile, Zulaikhal, 45, another carpet weaver in Firozkoh city, the provincial capital, said that after the death of her spouse, carpet weaving was the only way for her to earn.

“We had many customers in first years, but our sales declined over the last few years as most of people are now struggling with economic issues and they prefer buying foreign made products at lower prices,” she said.

She also said that the government should support carpet weavers as well as provide them with training programs and find market for their products.

On the other hand, Ghor women affairs officials acknowledged these problems and said that one of the reasons behind the low demand for domestic carpets was high imports of foreign made products to the country.

Shahla Khatibi, capacity building manager at Ghor Women Affairs Department said that they trained carpet weaving women in the province, but it did not help the industry.

“Economy is an important thing, many of our people have low economy, when an Iranian carpet is sold for 3,000 afghanis then why would one buy an Afghan carpet for 15,000 afghanis, women also lack a strong interest in the area, we told them several times to create a union, but no showed interest,” she said.

She said the Women Affairs Department in cooperation with the governor’s house had planned to find market for Ghor carpets.

Khatibi hoped problems the women carpet weavers faced in selling their products would be resolved.