KOTA BELUD: Despite the pandemic, the sales of Sabah’s indigenous craft have increased with online buyers snapping up handicraft by the state’s varied indigenous ethnic groups.
This has created a need for more local craft entrepreneurs, said tourism, arts and culture minister Nancy Shukri.
She said her ministry’s efforts in promoting indigenous craft has paid off with entrepreneurs enjoying good sales during the movement control order (MCO).
Her ministry had set up an e-bazaar during the MCO to sell such craft, setting the sales target at RM200 million.
“From March till November last year, we sold products worth RM216 million, all made by local entrepreneurs,” she said during her visit to the national craft satellite institute here.
Nancy was on a five-day working visit to Sabah which was organised by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB).
Nancy said the government had also assisted local craftsmen to buy machines to weave cloth or to buy raw products under the various government economic stimulus packages.
She said the total revenue from Malaysian craft from 2018 to 2020 was RM1.2 billion. Of that, Sabah’s share was RM113 million.
“Previously, the situation was different. Now, it is sold online, for both the domestic and overseas markets.”
She said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for handicraft went up as more online marketing was carried out by the ministry to attract overseas buyers.
She said the craft institute in Kota Belud, jointly managed by Kraftangan Malaysia and the ministry, was aimed at training Sabah youths in crafts, with the first intake of 18 participants coming from the Bajau, Dusun and Murut communities in Sabah.
The institute will soon open its doors for more Sabahans to do certificate and diploma level craft programmes.
The state also boasts the biggest craft community in the country. Of the 6,000 entrepreneurs in Malaysia, 2,103 are from Sabah.
Those keen to buy or sell their products can register with the ministry’s e-bazaar site at www.mycraftshoppe.com.