Raffia straw leaves come from the tree (Raphia farinifera) it is an amazing material that can be used to make hats, offering sun protection. It is soft and strong, easy to dye many different colours using natural dyes. It is a good material for weaving items such as baskets, rugs, coasters, mats, It is also used in gardening as twine to tie climbing plants to bamboo stakes due to its flexibility and strength.
Not just anyone can make items with it, you need to develop your crafting skills beforehand. Weaving can take a long time and can require a large amount of talent and patience. Whenever I see a natural material being used by skilled artisans, it inspires me. These particular coasters fit well in any modern home, they were handmade in Madagascar, Africa.
Despite Madagascar being one of the world’s poorest nations, they are still struggling to try to tackle many environmental, biodiversity, food security and development challenges.
Between 2005-2013, Madagascar exported around 1,000-1,500 tons per year of raffia straw, and it generated over generating over one million dollars in exports. Raffia crafts have also helped to employ 2 million people into raffia craftsmen, and with the products being certified fair trade, the skilled artisans who do the crafting, now get paid a fair wage.