There is an quiet economic revolution brewing in rural villages of Nepalgunj.
The Tharu women living in these villages have seen their incomes rise steadily by selling traditional handicraft.
Originally used for decoration purposes, demand for these handicrafts has exploded across Nepal and boosted the confidence of Tharu women.
More and more women of the Tharu community are getting involved in the traditional handicraft business due to low cost of raw materials, making it easy to pick up the trade.
The demand for traditional handicrafts seem insatiable as shops selling such products keep springing up in central cities like Nepalgunj, Kathmandu, Pokhara and Biratnagar.
Niru Chaudari, an instructor of Tharu handicrafts at Panchasheel handicraft centre said, “We have started exporting our products abroad. There are some companies who insist on selling our products internationally. But we are having a hard time keeping up with demand.”
They produce products like pen holder, napkin basket, bread basket, caps, flowerpot and piggybanks from raw materials such as babiyo, bamboos, muj and clay. Mahima Chaudari, one of the producers, earns up to Rs20,000 (S$431) a month.
She said, “We can produce more if we have the technology.
It would be better if we have a community factory to improve production.”
Her handicraft business has allowed her to provide a better education for her children.
According to Kamala Chaudari, people go and buy our products to give as gifts to relatives.
Even the hotels and restaurants prefer traditional handicraft products.
“Products made from glass and plastic break easily. But we make much more durable products as we use materials like muj, babiyo and more,” she said.
The Tharu women have been involved in traditional handicraft business for nearly five years and they earn up to Rs30,000.
Kamala further added, “When tourists arrive in our district, we present them with our handicraft products. These products are famous because they are environmentally friendly, durable and very attractive.”