Families of many bamboo craftsmen in Lalmonirhat are passing days in hardship as demand for bamboo made items is gradually falling.
Nowadays, only a few female members from the craftsmen's families are engaged in their ancestral profession as almost all the male craftsmen in the area have changed their ancestral trade and engaged themselves in various alternative jobs to earn their livelihood and maintain their families.
One of the female artisans at Mahishkhocha Daspara in Aditmari upazila Sunati Rani Das, 28, said usually she makes different bamboo made items like winnowing-fans and baskets.
“Although we still produce a good number of bamboo items, sale of such items has declined in the local markets in recent times,” Sunati said, adding that the number of items she produces now is hardly about 20 percent of what she used to produce 10 years ago.
Sunati's husband Nagen Chandra Das said he maintains his family working as farm labourer because earning from his ancestral trade is a bid uncertain now.
“Although the price of bamboo is gradually getting costlier, demand for bamboo made items is witnessing sharp fall day by day,” Nagen said.
Fifty-year-old Malati Rani Das, another artisan of the same village, said one can produce 10 pieces of winnowing-fans or baskets everyday, but there is hardly any market to sell those, adding that, “We produce only four to five such items now and can earn Tk 50 to Tk 60 from selling the items.”
Dhirendranath Das, 78, an elderly craftsman of Chaklarhat Daspara in Kaliganj upazila, said people nowadays prefer to use plastic items, adding that as plastic items are much cheaper consumers are losing interest in bamboo made crafts.
However, as some individuals still prefer to use bamboo made items, a few craftsmen from their community are still producing the items for them on a small scale, Dhirendranath added.
Another craftsman of the village Manik Lal Das, 75, said around 1200 craftsmen's families in the district were involved in producing items made of bamboo, but all the male artisans of those families have said goodbye to their ancestral trade.
Though a few female members of those families are still continuing their ancestral profession, it might disappear forever within the next 10 years, Manik said.
Farmer Jabed Ali, 65, of Gorol village in Kaliganj upazila, said they preferred to use duli, a large pot for storing paddy, a couple of years ago, but they now use plastic baskets as it has a good longevity.