KUCHING: The Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (Kraftangan Malaysia) has been urged to play a more effective and bigger role in helping Sarawakian women, especially those from the rural areas to further elevate the arts and crafts produced by them.

Senator Susan Chemerai Anding hoped that the local crafts of Sarawak can be further promoted to the world.

“Kraftangan Malaysia needs to be more actively involved in programmes by going to rural areas and work with the women bureaus in the longhouses in Sarawak to guide them on the way of commercialising their handicrafts,” she said when debating the motion of thanks on the royal address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the Dewan Negara session on Tuesday (Sept 8).

She said with over 27 multi-racial ethnic groups in Sarawak, the handicrafts produced are diverse and unique and at the same time, have to meet the trends and needs of global marketing.

Senator Susan Chemerai Anding

“The handicrafts are made of various types of materials such as rattan, beads and wood, and are produced into woven mats, baskets, bags, beads and many more.

“These unique handicrafts are produced by the women in order to support their family. It is an important source of income, though it is not much,” she said.

She said the marketing of products was quite limited and would normally be sold among friends and some would use social media platforms to promote.

“As such, Kraftangan Malaysia can share expertise and knowledge on ways to start online businesses and thus, the handicrafts could be sold overseas,” she said.

Susan said approving certain grants for the purpose of helping to start an online business will to some extent help these handicraft entrepreneurs.

“Promotion of local products also needs to be intensified and e-commerce platforms also need to be created.

“In this regard, a coordination system from the handicraft makers to international marketing by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is needed to achieve this goal,” she said.

She said therefore, Kraftangan Malaysia needs to play a wider role in helping the craft industry to improve their abilities and skills so that they do not lag behind in terms of manufacturing techniques, material resources, latest design trends and market information.