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. Shop for Raffia products.
Raffia: Frequently asked questions
What are the uses of Raffia straw?
There are so many uses for raffia, it can be made into baskets, mats, hats, and rugs. As it is durable and very easy to dye you can make many things and when they come to the end of their life, the material is biodegradable making it eco friendly.
Can raffia be used for medical purposes?
Raffia can be boiled and eaten, in fact, it has been previously used for medical purposes as a laxative but there is not enough research into it and so we would not recommend it for use as a medicine.
Where does raffia straw come from?
Raffia comes from the Palmyra palm tree which typically grows throughout Africa, Asia and New Guinea.
Can Raffia straw replace normal fabrics?
Raffia can be used as a fabric however it is not as soft as fabrics like cotton and polyester. Also as it not grown as much as those other materials, even if it could be made softer, the clothing factory producers would unlikely adopt it due to the lack of research, knowledge and the cost to produce the material.