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6-month OTOP trade fair launched

A six-month event dubbed the “OTOP Provincial Trade Fair” was launched by the Department of Trade and Industry-Negros Occidental at the Ayala Malls Capitol Central in Bacolod City on Thursday.* Gabb Advincula photo

One-Town, One-Product (OTOP) producers in Negros Occidental are showcasing their produce in a six-month trade fair organized by the Department of Trade and Industry in a bid to recover from the economic slump resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Dubbed the “OTOP Provincial Trade Fair”, the event opened on Thursday at the ground floor of Ayala Malls Capitol Central with an initial 31 “otopreneurs” from various cities and municipalities in the province, who have been assisted by the DTI, and also registered under the OTOP Next Gen program.

In an interview during the launch, Rachel Nufable, officer-in-charge of DTI-Negros Occidental, said as the economy starts to reopen, the special trade fair is a welcome opportunity for these producers to reach more buyers.

“We aim to help local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover from the ill-effects of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

So far, this is the longest trade fair in Negros Occidental and the first-ever that specifically features the OTOP producers.

“This is a trial run for the establishment of a permanent home for Negrense MSME products aside from the Association of Negros Producers Hub,” Nufable said.

The special trade fair, which will run until April 2022, showcases a wide variety of products under various industries such as food, homestyle, wearables and furniture.

“These are products with high potential to level up their markets, from the barangay to urban centers, and can be promoted in the regional and national level. There are new MSMEs assisted through the various trainings provided by the agency, who are also joining the trade fair. It is a sort of market test for them,” the DTI official said.

Nufable noted that as most of the MSMEs have stopped operating due to the pandemic, there is a need to teach them to be resilient by overcoming whatever crisis that may arise.

“They have to recover and then rebuild their enterprises by developing other product lines based on their available resources, manpower and marketplace,” she added.

Gerin Vergara, senior trade and industry development specialist of DTI-Negros Occidental, said the OTOP Provincial Trade Fair also focuses on facilitating market access for the producers.

“It is positioned to help both ‘otopreneurs’ who have been enrolled in the OTOP Next Gen for almost four years or the ‘big brothers’ and the ‘bagong sibol’ or those newly-registered in the program,” she said.

One of the participating “otopreneurs” is Precy Perez, owner of Yssa’s Handicrafts based in Barangay Tangub, Bacolod City.

Perez, who produces home decors made from recycled wine and medicine bottles, said in an interview on Friday their business was really affected by the pandemic.

The slump in tourism industry brought about by travel restrictions halted the export of their products.

“I did not have the amount to pay our workers so they also stopped working. We are slowly recovering now and the good thing is, with this trade fair, we are able to again showcase our products to the market,” Perez added.

Themed “Resiliency. Recovery. Rebuilding”, the event is being organized by the DTI in partnership with the Negros Occidental provincial government and Ayala Malls Capitol Central.*PNA

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