Country's pottery industry is struggling to survive in the wake of huge arrival of aluminum, melamine, ceramic, plastic and other materials-made utensils.
Since time immemorial country's people have been using earthen pots in the all uses of their household needs. Earthen pots were the only one resort to people especially in the pastoral area of the nation.
With the passage of time many types of utensils made of aluminum, ceramic, melamine and so on have flooded the local market and subsequently these have removed the earthen industry from the focal point, local sources said.
Before and at the beginning of 1990s in almost all the rural households earthen pots including pitcher, jar, plate, dish and so on were found for different uses but after '90s they have been gradually replaced by aluminum, ceramic and melamine-made pots and utensils.
While talking to FE recently potters of Tala Thana of Satkhira district said, " Aluminum has captured the market and now our business is on the verge of extinction. We have started shifting our profession to other sectors. It is not a profitable business now."
Local sources said, " Pottery industry of Jatpur, Aladipur and some other villages of Tala Thana was famous for its distinctive quality and it attracted the attention of many people in the adjacent districts. Pottery industry of Chuknagar of Khulna city was also famous."
Even at the outset of '90s about three million people were directly and indirectly involved in this profession for their livelihood but now only a few people in some areas are engaged in this particular sector finding no other alternative, locals said.
Before '90s and at the beginning of '90s rural people showed very little inclination to use aluminum but now they have forgotten to use earthen utensils. Hawkers used to hawk aluminum utensils from door to door but only ladies showed interest to buy those things, potters said.
At the beginning of 1990s the amount of sale was far higher than that of today. Afterwards the volume of sales has declined significantly due to the wide use of aluminum, ceramics, melamine, plastic and other ingredient-made materials, traders said.
The price of an item prepared by mud varies from Tk 5.0 to Tk 100.
Due to increase in price of mud and other raw materials such as wood the price of utensils has risen and subsequently the percentage of profit has fallen sharply. It is not a prestigious job now and our present generation has no intention to continue this profession, said some traders.
Deducting all the costs related to production one third of sale price remains as profit. But in the past the rate of profit was more than that of now. Decline in profit, change of fashion by people, financial crisis, lack of appropriate government policy have made people reluctant to continue in this profession, they said.
Still this particular sector is exempted from government tax. But this tax exemption creates no impact on the growth potential here. It is notable that goons and hoodlums oppress the potters not only in the local areas but also in the city area.
Capital is a vital factor in this business though it is not a capital-intensive industry. In most of the cases the people involved in this profession are facing dire financial crisis. Nationalised commercial banks or even NGOs do not intend to give loan to this industry.
To make this industry a viable one appropriate government policy, tendency to use earthen products, capital support and less import of luxury items from abroad are needed.