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Traditional handicrafts may boost and diversify incomes in Kyrgyz countryside

Development of the handicraft sector as a means of creating jobs in Kyrgyzstan’s rural areas is the focus of roundtable discussion taking place here today. The event, organized with support from FAO, will present the results of an FAO pilot project carried out earlier this year in remote Kulundu village – near the Tajikistan border and some 1,150 kilometers from Bishkek.

The diversity and quality of handicraft products produced by rural women and men of Kyrgyzstan have received international recognition. Made by hand from natural materials, handicrafts can preserve and develop folk traditions while becoming an integral part of modern life.

“Most importantly, the handicraft sector serves as a source of income for thousands of families in the countryside,” said FAO social protection consultant Dono Abdurazakova, who has been a driving force behind the initiative. “As international experience shows, folk crafts can form a significant contribution to the economy of households and the export potential of countries.”

Development of the sector requires minimal investment, infrastructure and training, Abdurazakova noted. The theme of today’s roundtable event will be how to maximize the potential of crafts to increase rural incomes.

Discussions will consider the results of research presented in a new report, "Review and Analysis of Export Potential and Marketing Opportunities of Non-agricultural (Craft) Activities in Rural Areas in Central Asia," prepared by the Central Asian Crafts Support Association (CACSA) Research Centre based in Bishkek.

The report draws attention to the role of crafts as ecologically safe and environmentally friendly activities, and emphasizes the development of handicrafts as an economic sector leading to increased employment in rural areas, higher incomes, and reduced rates of out-migration.

Participants will also hear a presentation and discuss the results of the FAO pilot project, "Diversifying income and improving the commercial potential of rural crafts in Central Asia."

It is expected that the round table will be attended by government officials, and representatives of nongovernmental and international organizations working in the Kyrgyz Republic.

FAO is planning a similar event later this month in Uzbekistan.

6 June 2017, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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