The colors attract attention in the perches of the businesses of Sosote, a community located on the Via Portoviejo-Crucita, especially of women who want to wear the tagua accessories that are sold there from $ 1.
Johnny Cobeña recalls that the activity arose after 25 years ago several families from that community migrated to Guayaquil and met people who made buttons. When they returned to Manabí, they began to add value to tagua, in a work that is now being promoted by more than 200 people in various workshops in this community belonging to the Rocafuerte canton.
These crafts begin to permeate North American and European markets. “The product has a good acceptance for the finish and now we have a laser machine that still improves that product,” says Cobeña.
This machine is in the headquarters of the Tropitagua Association, which brings together at least 40 families and is chaired by Mariana Cobeña. In that place, Carlos Román designs on tagua figures through laser. We also work in wood or glass. That machine was facilitated by Mavesa to micro-entrepreneurs who were affected after the earthquake.
Although they do not handle export statistics, the majority of costume jewelery, necklaces, bracelets and other objects are destined abroad and the rest is sold in workshops and tourist areas. But what worries Mariana and Johnny is that the diffusion that is made of this vegetable raw material is very little. “We need a little publicity,” says Mariana.
Exports have dropped by 40% in the last six years, says Alba González, from the Association of Exporters of tagua, who also believes that more advertising is needed for this product.
A stumble is that the decline in the price of oil has the same effect on derivatives such as the plastic button to the detriment of the sale of tagua buttons. “It’s a natural button that has very specific niches of international markets and that basically depend on fashion and the incentive that exists to work with a natural button,” González declares.
Natural buttons: wooden, shell of mother-of-pearl, buffalo horns are competition for tagua, which despite the request made to the Government does not have the seal of origin.
The Ecuadorian product is bought by chains such as Channel, Ferragamo, Christian Dior, Zara, Nautical and Tommy Hilfiger, which indicates that it is a quality product.
In 2017, 248 tons of Tagua animelas were exported to Mainland China and Hong Kong for $ 2.23 million, and in the first half of 2018 were 154 tons and $ 1.4 million, according to Pro Ecuador. (I)