South Cotabato to review support program for MSMEs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 July) — The provincial government of South Cotabato will revisit its support initiatives for local cottage industries to address the lack of quality products.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Tuesday they will review the implementation of product development and promotion programs for local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and draw up some strategies to strengthen them.

She cited the government’s “One Town, One Product” or OTOP program, which focused on the development of a banner product for each locality.

“Right now, we don’t enough locally-made products that could really compete in the markets in terms of quality and packaging,” she said.

Fuentes said they saw this situation during the products display and expo at the recent 10-day 49th foundation anniversary celebration of the province and 16th T’nalak Festival.

She said they did not have any problem in terms of the display of raw agricultural products but the processing and manufacturing side was noticeably in short supply.

For local arts and crafts, she said the showcased products were quite limited and appeared “overpriced.”

“I think it’s about time that we review our support programs for our cottage industries and help them develop new quality products that we could promote on a larger-scale,” she said.

Among the popular local products that were displayed during the festivities were the processed foods from Tupi town, T’nalak fabric and native crafts from Lake Sebu and bamboo furniture, arts and crafts from various localities.

Under the OTOP program, which was introduced by the Department of Trade and Industry, each of the province’s 10 towns and lone city were supposed to develop and promote their own banner products.

But the governor said their assessment showed that the OTOP program has failed to take off and succeed in the province as earlier envisioned.

Fuentes hopes that the province would be able to offer a range of quality products when it celebrates its 50th foundation anniversary and the 17th edition of the T’nalak Festival next year.

The provincial government officially started last Sunday the countdown for next year’s planned grand festivities.

Citing feedback from visitors, she said this year’s celebration was considered successful based on the quality of the preparations.

The provincial government prepared for six months for the festivities and spent around P16 million.

“Since it will be our 50th or golden anniversary next year, we will make the festivities grander and more interesting,” Fuentes added. (MindaNews)