Artisans from Exuma received their certificates of proficiency in coconut, straw and shell craft, and food processing during a ceremony on Tuesday. Trainers for the courses were Cacique Award winner Eloise Smith in straw, Nassau”s April Martin in shell, Eleuthera”s Emily Munnings in coconut, and Tonjia Burrows of Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) in food processing.
BAIC executive chairman Edison M Key, the keynote speaker, urged artisans to aim for the hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year importing souvenir and craft items for tourists and residents.
“Imagine what it would do for the craft industry in The Bahamas if just half of that was spent in support of the Bahamian craft and souvenir industry,” he said.
He noted that the multi-million dollar craft market downtown Nassau “is fast approaching conclusion.”
“Are we going to spend all that money just to promote foreign goods at the expense of our own?” he asked.
“I look forward to Exuma art, craft and souvenir items being prominently displayed as that national craft centre becomes a crown of glory to Bahamian culture.”
The Government appreciates the value of the craft industry to the economy, he said. More stalls are being made available downtown Nassau for the sale of authentic Bahamian craft and souvenir items to the thousands of cruise tourists who arrive each weekend.
“We need to find some way of getting more Exuma goods into the mix,” he said.
Mr Key urged artisans to be guided by quality of product in developing their craft.
By GLADSTONE THURSTON
Bahamas Information Services