Solomon Islands: Encourage the making and marketing of locally made products on the style of the Thai OTOP programme.
Today, I am writing about a subject that I have previously mentioned in the local Solomon Islands media but prompted by the recent statement of business tycoon Sir Thomas Chan who recently said the incoming government, after the general election in April this year, should consider promoting locally made products after skills training is provided to potential manufacturers.
Here in Thailand, I am very familiar with what is called the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) programme.
I will explain the programme like this.
The OTOP programme is a local entrepreneurship stimulus programme that was designed by a former Thai Prime Minister during his time in office (from 2001 to 2006).
The programe aims to support locally made and marketed products from each of Thailand’s 7,255 tambons (sub districts).
The programme drew inspiration from the One Village One Product movement which was originally started in Oita Prefecture in Japan with the aim of improving the locally available resources and produce goods that were acceptable for sale internationally.
Once the Thai OTOP programme was launched the Japanese Government launched a one-year programme to support Thailand develop its OTOP products, such as textiles, wooden products, baskets, ceramics and paper made items, to buyers in Japan.
Today, the OTOP programme is thriving in Thailand and has helped many local communities create products that are sold locally and internationally, ranging from traditional handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items and foods, including honey.
I am well acquainted with the exquisite hand carved wooden bowls and artifects crafted by the talented carvers in the Solomon Islands. I am familiar as well with the range of basket ware products and fashion items created from shells and I known that veneer and plywood enterprises are taking place in “down stream” parts of the Solomon Islands.
If Thailand can do it and become successful then why not the Solomon Islands?
The incoming government could well learn from the Thai and Japanese experiences of encouraging locally made products for sale, at home and overseas, and with the right amount of investment, encouragement and promotion, I feel confident the livelihood and economic prospects for rural communities could improve.