"Why sell local products in Manila and other places when you don't even patronize it locally," Doris Delima, assistant regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Southwestern Mindanao (Region 12).
She said some local products, especially food items, have experienced being unsold in trade fairs and exhibits around the country "yet they were bought locally".
Delima, along with other government and business officials in her region, announced on Friday here the holding of the Second Yamang Mindanao One Town One Product (OTOP) Island Fair at the end of this month in General Santos City.
The OTOP is a priority program of the government to promote entrepreneurship and create jobs. Through OTOP, local chief executives of each city and municipality take the lead in identifying, developing and promoting a specific product or service, which has a competitive advantage.
The project involves support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to manufacture, offer and market distinctive products or services through the use of indigenous raw materials and local skills and talents.
Last year, the first Yamang Mindanao fair earned P39 million from buyers that included European and other forieign traders and business groups. The fair was held also in General Santos City.
Other countries have used the strategy ahead of the Philippines with the program also known in Thailand as OTOP or "one tambon (town), one product."
Delima said they would bank on the municipal and city mayors "to spearhead efforts that will promote their products locally and in the bigger markets here and abroad". Especially for food items, "LGUS can start patronizing the products produced locally like fruit juices and other food stuffs in their initiated events".
Delima said the role of the local governments was crucial in the national government's effort to promote the products from the countryside. "Leaders of local governments in towns and cities should not stop in making motherhood statements in support of their products."
"They should show it in concrete actions like hiring point persons to oversee how these products are promoted," she said.
Delima said that the local government can start arranging a scheme with caterers, restaurants, and hotels to buy the products sold by local producers. Local governments around Mindanao "should organize a lot of activities and public events like seminars, training, symposia and congresses, which could become selling jumping pads for local products".
She cited the effort they did during the recently concluded Palarong Pambansa in Koronadal City where around 5,000 participants were catered.
She said they used an arrangement they had with the organizer, the Department of Education and decided to serve locally produced bottled and tetra-pack nutritious fruit juices.
She said they favored the local products to boost local producers market instead of serving popular fruit drinks produced in Manila.