Bark Cloth Dealers Complain of Low Returns

Audio 1

The expansion of the art and crafts market has seen bark cloth find market in countries such as Kenya and the UK.
With this new market, bark cloth dealers expected to reap more, but they say that they are disappointed in the earnings they make from a product that is increasingly gaining popularity worldwide.
Sam Ssebaale, who has been dealing in bark cloth for the last 25 years, says that the artists he sells to, in some cases Kenyans, are making much more money from the product.
//Cue in: iThe people that we sell to#
Cue out:#it originates from.i//
At his stall at Musigula in Nalukolongo, Ssebaale sells a meter of low-grade bark cloth at 3000 while a meter of the soft, smooth bark cloth popular for art pieces costs 7000. He adds that his prices haven't changed in a while, regardless of the fact that the latter type of bark cloth becomes popular by the day.
Another dealer, Joseph Sserunkuma, says that he sells about 6 pieces on a good business day, but he never fixes his prices because business is unpredictable. He sells his bark cloth both in wholesale and retail.
Thomas Mbiro, a wholesale dealer who supplies Ssebaale, says that the transport costs involved in the business hardly leave him any profit.
//Cue in: iGenerally transporting them#
Cue out#little profit.i//
Mbiro buys the bark cloth from the makers in Kanabulemu, Rakai and sometimes from Masaka district.
The art pieces made out of bark cloth on the other hand are fetching lots of money. Justin Igala, an artist who has been painting on bark cloth since 1995, says that his pieces sometimes go for as much as 400, 000Ushs.
At Buganda Road Crafts' Village, art pieces painted on bark cloth cost between 30, 0000 and 500, 000UShs. Bark cloth table mats cost 10, 000UShs in some shops, while in others, purses cost 20, 000UShs.
In 2005 UNESCO recognized bark cloth as a collective heritage item, increasing its popularity.

Support us