Ghana’s textile industry has been an important source of livelihood for many despite the challenges it has faced in recent years. But the traditional textiles sub-sector in particular, which produces Kente and the smock, has gained very little attention from the government.
Amidst the economic impact caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, smock weavers at the Bolgatanga Smock Market say patronage has plummeted drastically. They are thus calling on government for support.
The weaving of smock has largely been the preserve of Northern Ghana, and it’s a skill that has existed for many decades.
Smock weaving as an economic vocation and non-traditional export in the Upper East Region is one of the major sources of livelihood for many communities. However, the weavers are confronted with surmountable challenges and need a little push.
The region produces quality smocks, which are patronized locally and internationally, but the weavers experience difficulty getting easy access to inputs such as the thread to enhance quality weaving.
But patronage has reduced owing to the lack of proper exposure and marketing mechanisms for the products, leading to a reduction in production rate.
The fugu cloth comes in different colours and styles, sometimes based on the specifications of the buyer.
The Bolgatanga Smock Market is considered the hub of smocks in the Upper East Region, and gets majority of its customers from neighboring countries and from the southern part of Ghana.
But the negative impact of COVID-19 culminating in the closure of the country’s borders, has not spared weavers and traders in the smock business.
Some smock weavers told Citi Business News business has been generally slow in the last few months.
“At first, we used to sell everywhere and supply to our customers even outside the country but now, with COVID-19, we are not able to even sell two smocks even in a month. We just sit here,” Peter Adongo, a smock seller lamented.
“We need support such as ready market for our products, materials and weaving machines to scale up our business. Things are really hard for us and if government does not come to our aid, it is going to be tough for us and our families,” another stated.
The weavers also want government to show interest in their work by offering them credit at cheaper rates to expand, and ensure the exposure of indigenous smocks to create both local and international markets for the industry.
“We need support from government. We also need ready market to sell our goods. We need government to support us with raw materials and machines to enable our business to move forward,” he said.
“Due to the border closure too, we cannot export our smocks so we are appealing to government to see how it can help us surmount these challenges,” another said.
Another smock seller called on government to consider smocks as part efforts to promote the consumption or patronage of made in Ghana goods.