The Sri Lankan Experience - 2
03 / 1994
PEASANT TO PEASANT TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER PROGRAMMES
During the course of networking mission in South India, Sunimal Fernando, Director, IRED:ASIA identified the technology of extracting fibre from the trunk of a banana tree and turning out many beautiful saleable handicrafts. Usually the banana tree trunk is thrown away as useless, once the productive period is over. By this new technology it could now help create a new handicraft for poor peasant women.
Two trainers from India trained 35 Sri Lankan women. The trainees were drawn from all the island, ethnic and religious groups - sinhalese, tamils, muslims, buddhists, hindus, and christians. During the two week training period they lived together, learning a new craft and at the same time sharing their problems, needs, knowledge and opportunities. They all shared a common enemy POVERTY, and a common goal - DEVELOPMENT.
Ms. Chandrawathie from Gampaha, a village in the Western Province of the Sri Lanka was one of the trainees who mastered this skill. She transferred this technology to over 200 beneficiaries coming from the national poverty alleviation programme in her province, and in different parts of Sri Lanka. A range of high quality handicrafts like shopping bags, tea cosies and table ware have already entered the market and are seeking outlets abroad as well. She and her colleagues have also trained Chinese, Bangladesh, Nigerians, Tanzanians and Rwandans abroad. If available there are also requests from time to time from parts of India.
The work is slow so it helps as an additional incoem rather than as a full time employment. The other constraint experienced is that trunks are not available in sufficient quantities to ensure an adequate supply to carry out orders. Methods should be worked out to ensure that banana fibre from other areas where they are abundant can be collected by training another set of women to extract fibre and transported to the craftswomen to ensure unbroken employment. At present is done ad hoc at the producers expense resulting in small profits.
These initial operational arrangements require the continued assistance of a support agency to help them manage the products from strart to their sale till a steady and worthwhile income is ensured.
Technologies ttransferred to peasants from those in other countries in similar circumstances constitute a very innovative form of training. It proved to the local peasants that there were simple technologies that could be adapted for new handicrafts using waste material. However, the trainees do not fully realise the advantage of their skill. When peasants come from other countries requesting training they become aware of the value of their skills. They become elated and self confident, which leads to greater innovation and creativity.
FERNANDO, Sunimal, DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT SERVICES OF THE IRED PARTNERS IN ASIA, Support Services for Development (pvt)ltd. Sri Lanka, 1991/06
IRED Asie (Development Support Service) - 562/3 Nawala Road - Rajagiriya - Sri Lanka Tel : 94 1 695 481 - Fax : 94 1 - 688 368