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Caraga’s small traders to showcase products in Malaysia expo

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/9 Aug) – Eight small traders in Caraga Region who are pioneers of the Caraga Regional Association of Traders and Entrepreneurs (CREATE) Food, Inc. will join the Sabah International Exposition on Sept. 19-27 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

CREATE president Esther S. Uy said this is the first time for Caraga micro, small and medium enterprises to join the trade expo in Malaysia since the establishment of CREATE in 2005.

Gay A. Tidalgo, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Agusan del Norte, said Rep. Jose “Joboy” S. Aquino (1st Dist., Agusan del Norte) provided them an initial budget of P300,000 from his total assistance worth P600,000.

Tidalgo said their expected sales from the expo should be at least five pesos for every one peso of the budget allotted. Thus, their expected sales have to be at least P1.5 million, which may be in the forms of spot cash and book orders, she said, citing that most of their products to showcase are handicrafts and processed foods such as dried mangoes, durian candies and noodles.

“We also aim to establish networks with Malaysian traders to hopefully do business with them,” she added.

The 7th Sabah International Expo 2012 is the State’s trade fair organized every two years since 2000, and “has become one of the largest and most successful trade events in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).”

Noting that CREATE has 35 members, Uy said the primary problem of small traders in Caraga is the lack of financial assistance from the national government.

She said the only technical assistance they get from the DTI and the Department of Science and Technology are in the form of trainings on good manufacturing practices, packaging, setting up of equipment and research for potential products.

“We hope the government will help us in our capitalization,” Uy said, admitting that she personally extends financial support to her members without asking for interests.

She said her members are being discouraged to avail of loans from banks because aside from the high interest rates that range from three to five percent a month, they require at least three years of good financial records.

“Our members are mostly unemployed and housewives who are doing backyard production,” she said.

CREATE also urges the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to categorize its accreditation such that small manufacturers may acquire permits at least for local consumption.

With the current system, she added that both big and small companies, including micro entrepreneurs, have similar requirements for FDA licensing and accreditation.

“It is so costly for small traders to get license and accreditation from the FDA. How could they afford to comply with the requirements when they even lack capitalization?” she lamented.

Uy said that a German non-government organization that partnered with the DTI is helping them ensure good manufacturing practices for the meantime that most of their members are not FDA-accredited yet. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)

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