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Silk weavers open their first fair-trade shop

Silk weavers open their first fair-trade shop


Silkworm cocoons (above) being cultivated at the Khmer Silk Village Communities shop at Street 55. Below, colourful products for sale. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Silk clothing, cloth and home furnishings made with fair-trade principles are on sale at a new showroom in Phnom Penh which aims to attract more Cambodian customers.

Khmer Silk Village Communities opened its new shop and exhibition area on Monday at 26 Street 55, on the corner of Street 228.

The community covers about 700 silk weavers and 500 silk farmers since it was established in 2005. KSVC has taught them how to develop their weaving and dyeing techniques to increase silk quality and quantity, said Ke Muny, the group’s deputy secretary.

All products in the showroom had been made to fair trade principles, he said, which meant banning child labour, avoiding environmental pollution, and guaranteeing the quality of raw materials.

“The opening of this first exhibition showroom is to appeal to more Cambodian customers because most silk buyers are foreigners, so we would like Cambodians to support and use Khmer products, especially silk products,” said Ke Muny.

Prince Sisovath Pheanuroth, the president of KSVC and a senior technical advisor at the United Nations International Trade Centre, said the community now empowered weavers and silk farmers from Banteay Meanchey, Takeo, Kandal, Prey Veng and Siem Reap provinces.

“We need to select the best silk producers and weavers from each specific area to make a contract with them to deliver the quality and quantity that we have promised,” Ke Muny said.

After training in new techniques over the past two years, Takeo weaver Kuth Thearney said she could now make a better living for her family. “Having learned new ways of automatic weaving and dying, it now only takes us about a week to 10 days to finish one piece of silk,” she said.

Fellow weaver Kong Saron, 36, said: “I’m happy that we have our own exhibition showroom to sell our products. I’ve never brought my silk products to sell in Phnom Penh before because it took too much time.”

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