In 2010, the different groups of villagers involved in tourist services in Prek Toal decided to form a community group. Osmose supports its structuring and development towards autonomy. Today, a significant part of its activities come from visitors, operators, agencies booking their services independently of Osmose (cf Osmosienne N ° 13)
Saray, a model of sustainable development
During family surveys in 2003, Osmose discovers that some villagers were making hammocks in water hyacinth. This local know-how, however, had fallen into disuse. Thus, germinates the idea of reviving this traditional craft by turning to a new market, that of local and international tourism. Water hyacinth is an aquatic plant introduced from South America, invasive and considered an ecological plague. Saray’s challenge is to transform this superabundant and harmful resource into a sustainable economy. By harvesting it, drying it and braiding it, the craftswomen have diversified their production and make very beautiful objects of natural basketry. Their sale on the floating workshop in Prek Toal, as well as for hotels, restaurants and private individuals in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh can generate significant income for the weavers. For the most active, water hyacinth has become a real economic alternative to fishing!
Did you know?
Prek Toal in Khmer literally means “dead-end river,” because where the village is, the river creates two hairpin bends that block the vegetative mats drifting from the highlands to the lake. After the start of the monsoon, the village is often completely invaded by the plant for several weeks.
Thanks to the funding of the Belgian Technical Cooperation, Osmose acquires a floating house and transforms it into a workshop for craftswomen. Two former, custodians of the know-how, form a first group of weaving women who began selling products to visitors in the village.
Professional training provided by an Indonesian team allows women to learn new techniques and diversify the products produced.
The group of craftswoman is organized in cooperative named Saray, name of a delicate aquatic plant in Khmer. Her Majesty Norodom Sihamoni receives a delegation of craftswomen who are grateful for the project.
The Asian Development Bank is financing a new floating workshop suitable for weaving large carpets and presenting products for sale to visitors. The ‘cooperative’ Saray counts thirty craftswomen.
A couple of French designers are staying in Prek Toal to explore new concepts and designs. With these new designs Osmose is developing sales in the Cambodian market such as hotels, restaurants and spas in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, and responding to occasional export requests.
A group of Beninese from the lacustrine region of Ganvié comes to be trained in braiding techniques and to the Saray model! A south-south exchange to replicate the success of the project in other parts of the world infested with water hyacinth.
The soft, supple and luminous material of water hyacinth is currently available in over thirty different items ranging from fans to hats to floor mats, baskets, sandals and cushions.
Osmose ceases direct support of Saray products sales out of Prek Toal. Saray joins the community-based ecotourism group and makes most of its sales at the floating workshop.
Recruitment of a sales representative, Mrs Bony, for Saray sales development beyond the lake.
As of today, these women are mainly head of households from unprivileged families generating significant household revenue from their sales. For the most active handicrafters, water hyacinth (an abundant, free resource) has now replaced fish (an overexploited resource) as their main source of income.
In this way, the water hyacinth handicraft is an ideal model of sustainable development!
Do not hesitate to order your ethical and unique product of Water Hyancinth
Most of our orders are tailor-made. However, we have a catalog of products where you can find examples of what Saray’s women are able to do.
Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to place your order or to get more information.
Detail of order:
from the catalog and/or tailor made + quantity
Delivery or pick-up at our Siem Reap’s office.
If delivery, please precise.
This date, as far as possible, includes the time of production and delivery to Siem Reap. We do not take into account delivery times outside Siem Reap, these will have to be added.
Please note that the delivery fee are not included in the price and will be at your charge.
House # 0203, Group 8, Phum Wat Damnak, Sangkat Salakamreuk, Siem Reap, Cambodia PO Box 93-118
+855 12 832 812 / +855 63 765 506
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