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Bangladesh losing their highly skilled hand weavers to cheap mass produced goods

Bangladesh is suffering from a declining hand weaving industry and facing increased unemployment, urban migration, and landless farming as a result. Could intellectual property tools be the key?

“The decline in the sector [hand weaving], and the resulting impoverishment of highly skilled workers, is likely to continue and sharpen in the next few years. This is due to a continuation of factors, including high prices of raw materials and a lack of market for high-end woven goods due to the entry of low-cost ready made garments.

“Without proper intervention [until now the government efforts to provide compensation to widowed weavers due to high suicide rates or waving of loans has proved ineffective in solving the long-term crisis], it is likely they will migrate to urban areas, or end up as landless laborers. Loss of traditional weavers in places like AP will also mean a loss of cultural heritage that will be irreplaceable in the long run”

As the Strategic Foresight Group mentions, the loss of this industry to low end garments will have lasting effects from creating a new class of unemployed and a loss of an important cultural heritage.

The World Bank’s Africa Music Project is utilizing intellectual property rights and new technology to assist African musicians who have traditionally been unable to make a living based in their cultural heritage. The idea behind the Africa Music project is that with proper utilization of IP and marketing of quality products that celebrate a cultural heritage these communities will both preserve their culture, but also find stable income. Culture and commerce if dealt with correctly should compliment each other. Similar initiatives are being attempted with traditional high quality handmade crafts in different indigenous communities.

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Strategic Foresight Group, May 2011, pgs 2-3:

World Bank IP work, links on the bottom available for further reading

Komati Raj Gopal Reddy Website.

“Starvation Deaths in Andhra Pradesh.” Frontline. Volume 27 Issue 01. 02-15 January 2010

“Condition of Weavers in India: A Case Study of Sircilla Concentration Zone of Weavers in Andhra Pradesh.” India Current Affairs. 16 October 2010.

“Textile Exports May Touch $24 Billion in 2010-11.” The Economic Times. 23 May 2010.

Raaja, Vasugi. “Indian Weaving Industry: An Overview.” The Textile Magazine. 25 January 2011.