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Jathika Shilpa Sabha launches new project

In 1982, according to the act of associating institutions under the National Crafts Council, three institutions were established for the welfare of the handicraft industry and also the craftsmen. They were namely the Jathika Shilpa Sabha (NCC), The National Handicraft Board and also the National Design Centre. These institutions were established with three main purposes.


Buddhi Keerthisena

The purpose of the Jathika Shilpa Sabha is to protect and preserve the local handicraft industry which has been there for generations, also to develop the handicraft industry in general and upgrade the social and economic situation, protect them and bring their lifestyle to a higher standard.

The National Handicraft Board was later renamed as Laksala. It was established as a institution to create a market for the handicraft products. The main purpose of the National Design Centre is to introduce new designs to the handicraft industry, and also to introduce designs with quality and durability.

The Jathika Shilpa Sabha conducts training programs, develops the handicraft villages and also have made projects to enhance their welfare by opening craft shops.

They now have made plans to hand over the income that they get by these craft shops to the craftsmen who have retired from their trade, and to those who need financial assistance.

Dutch hospital

The Shilpa Sabha recently opened another craft shop at the Dutch Hospital, Colombo, under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as another result of their plans to develop the local handicraft industry.

The main responsibility of Laksala is to develop a good market for handicraft products.

Therefore, with the collaboration of three government institutions, the Jathika Shilpa Sabha continues with its procedure to develop the handicraft industry, under the Mahinda Chinthana vision.

The chairman of the Jathika Shilpa Sabha, Buddhi Keerthisena told the Sunday Observer that it was a project which was started two years ago. It is a continuous project. These projects are created to develop the traditional handicraft villages.

They need support and President Mahinda Rajapaksa has reserved 100 million to develop the villages.

These projects were done under the ministry of traditional and small Industries.

They have developed the villages with facilities such as workshops, machinery and equipment, infrastructure facilities, electricity and water.

Under this scheme, they developed seven villages earlier, and several of them belonging to the Matale distict, such as Pahala Hapuvida for laaksha industry, Unaweruwa for sesath industry and also developing the other village for their relative craft work, such as Batuvita in Horana for face masks, Bope, Poddala for woodcraft, Kooragala for musical instruments, Neelavala in the Kandy district for jewellery and Hiththatiya for musical instrument.

In 2013 they had different villages to develop, and by now the number of villages have increased. Altogether 11 villages are being developed. While doing that they hope to develop the livelihood of the entrepreneurs and give a good price for their products and develop a good market.

Crafts map

They have also created a Crafts map of all the handicraft villages of Sri Lanka to educate the general public, students, tourists and make them aware of the handicraft industry in Sri Lanka. They are trying to develop their livelihood and give them a good life.

The National Design Centre is giving them new designs. The ministry is also helping with this project and President Mahinda Rajapaska is keen to develop the industry.

The main purpose if the Jathika Shilpa Sabha is to see that craftsmen get a good market for their products and that they should be paid a good amount for their items.

Keerthisena said if they do not recognise their talents and creativity, they may not carry on with their trade and search for other areas for their livelihood. As a solution, the government institutions should pay reasonable amounts and the private sector also should follow their example.

The Jathika Shilpa Sabha always represents the craftsmen to enhance their skills and livelihood.

This particular program will continue.

It is an ongoing project. The minister too, is keen to develop this sector and this year's budget will provide more funds to this sector.

Shilpa exhibition

He said that the entrepreneurs are very happy with the work going on and they have expressed their happiness with the ongoing project.

Their participation in the "Shilpa" National Exhibition showed their enthusiasm and creativity. They are also working together with the UNESCO with this continuous project.The foreign institutions which are in collaboration with the Jathika Shilpa Sabha are, UNESCO and also Indian craft institutions such as the Daskari Haat Samiti and Smesco in Indonesia.

The Indian and the Indonesian governments are giving them constant support and are helping them with all their projects. They give them their support in marketing, promotion, design and product development and foreign exhibitions.

With all this support both by the government and the foreign help, Keerthisena says they have more projects than enough, mostly to enhance the lives of the entrepreneurs.

They have a good staff and they're carrying on with what is given. They have less transport facilities, building facilities, and also sanitary facilities and have to go through a lot of hardships.

Necessary actions should be taken to develop these facilities of an institution which does a great service to the nation.

But amidst those hardships the Jathika Shilpa Sabha is having a good, hard working staff and with their dedication, the institution is doing a yeoman service to make the craftsmen and the small entrepreneurs of our nation get international recognition for their hard work and increase the economy of the country to a higher level, without making the profits go to foreign countries and preserve it for the future generation as one of our most valuable cultural heritages.

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