By Ronald Owili
Depletion of raw materials and the shrinking tourism numbers is taking a toll on the woodcarving industry as those involve in the craft continue counting losses.
A case in point is the Wamuyu Handicraft Cooperative which has seen the turnover reduce by 87 percent in a decade.
According to the Wamuyu Handicraft Cooperative Chairman Joseph Mutuku, the society now earns just 2 million shillings down from at least 15 million shillings earlier.
For 40 years, woodcarving has been the talent Daniel Musau has relied on as a source of income. A craft he has mastered so well evident by these displays.
But tides are about to change against his favor and soon he might be forced to master another kind of art as the current one takes a different turn.
While dwindling tourism fortunes hurt various sectors, woodcarving has not escaped these effects as the visitors who used to buy them are no longer available, if any, they do not come as frequently.
For Wamunyu Handicraft Cooperative society, the last 10 years have been rough for this market as turnover dips 87% according to the society’s manager, Joseph Mutuku.
And if the recovery efforts in tourism bear fruit and demand for the carvings increase, there is still another problem to deal with.
Depletion of an artist’s favorite species; Silver Oak and Rose Wood, which are suitable for carving have significantly reduced. For a Silver Oak to mature, it takes 80 years, time they do not have.
Now they are using what they have, Yellow Wood, which is prone to insects attack, and wood from mango tree, jacaranda or gravellier.
These craftsmen look forward for a quick solution to the availability of raw materials lest they become the new recruits in the jobless market.