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Southern potters face bleak future

Update: May, 03/2013 - 10:22

The province has for long enjoyed the advantage of having plenty of the clay containing aluminium sulphate, which is needed to produce red terracotta products, as well as a skilled pottery workforce..—Photto mdta.com.vn

VINH LONG (VNS)— Many pottery makers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Vinh Long have stopped or cut back production because orders have declined in recent years.

The province has for long enjoyed the advantage of having plenty of the clay containing aluminium sulphate, which is needed to produce red terracotta products, as well as a skilled pottery workforce.

The province's famous red terracotta products have been exported to many countries and territories, including the EU, US, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

However, the global economic slowdown has seen a sharp reduction in export orders in recent years.

Duong Hoang Son, who had three kilns in Long Ho District's Thanh Duc Commune, stopped production three years ago. He said the province's pottery sector was at a standstill. The more they produced, the greater the losses local potters suffered, he said.

Son said that a little more than a decade ago, it was a prosperous period for potters in the province with production unable to meet demand.

Ho Minh Chau, owner of the Van Thang Pottery enterprise which has three kilns in Thanh Duc Commune, said orders for the province's famous red terracotta products had been declining over the last five years. He had closed one kiln and was operating the other two at half capacity.

Difficult

The products of Tan Van pottery village in Dong Nai Provive.

He said a set of three pots that cost VND60,000 (US$2.8) ten years ago continued to fetch the same price today, while its production cost, including labour, materials and transport, had increased three times, leaving producers in a very difficult situation.

When things were going well, buyers paid potters in advance, but now, they could only receive money three to six months after delivery, he said.

"Many producers now lack capital, are in debt and facing bankruptcy," he said.

In 2000, the province had more than 130 pottery makers, most of them located in Long Ho and Mang Thit districts, according to the Vinh Long Pottery Association.

During its pottery heyday, the province produced about 50-60 million pottery products of various kinds each year and earned average annual export revenues of US$40 million.

Last year, just 12 million pottery products were made, down 20 per cent against 2011.

The province has just 32 pottery producers now. Of these, one-third do not operate regularly.

Ho Van Vang, chairman of the provincial pottery association, said: "Orders have been declining every year and this year they have declined further."

Besides, the industry was mired in several problems including small-scale production, outdated production techniques and lack of export information, he said.

The province's pottery products are mostly exported via traders in the southeastern province of Binh Duong. —VNS






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