Has anyone ever thought that remnants of pineapple and banana plants can be used for producing handicrafts? A woman of Madhupur upazila in Tangail has thought about it and is producing items like tray bag, basket and tissue box.
The upazila is famous for pineapple and banana cultivation. After harvesting the two delicious fruits, the plants are usually left as spoilage.
In 2017, Rahela Jakir, a female entrepreneur established a handicraft shop named "Buro Craft" where different household and decorative items are made from natural fibre extracted from pineapple leaves and banana trunks. Those handicraft items have already attracted buyers from both home and abroad.
Rahela has also trained local destitute women about the art of making handicrafts and they have become self-dependent.
"Women can be the driving force of our economy. This initiative has been taken to create an employment opportunity for ultra-poor women," said Rahela.
Apart from helping create new entrepreneurs and employment opportunities, this small factory has also contributed to cleaning the environment, she added.
Rahela said both government and private supports can help flourish the industry.
At first, fibre is collected from pineapple leaves and bark of the banana plant, using a scientific process. Then, natural colour extracted from various trees and fruits is mixed with the fibre which is used for making different types of handicrafts.
After the inception of Buro Craft in 2017, a showroom has been opened at Gulshan. With its natural-fibre-based products, it has also taken part in an exhibition in China.
At present, they are working on producing fabrics and environment-friendly sanitary napkin for women.
A woman from Kakraid area of Madhupur upazila said, "Earlier we lived in poverty with a family of seven members. We struggled to run the family with the only income of my husband. Since last year, we have been earning a decent amount by learning the art of making handicrafts."
Hazera Begum, wife of day labourer Raihan of the Pochish Mile area said, "From the very beginning of this factory, I have been working here. I have also received training from the owner. Now, I have become self-reliant and can contribute to the family."
Many women like me have been solvent by making handicrafts, she added.
Shahanaz Begum, assistant manager of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (Bscic), Tangail, said, "The factory has created opportunities for many unemployed people by training them. We also provide them with a loan. In the fiscal year 2018-19, some 191 people under Bscic area have been provided loans worth Tk1.46 crore."
At present, more than 84,000 people are working in 26,000 small and cottage industries in Tangail.