Minister for Trade, Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Business and Export Development Hon Ian Douglas has issued a renewed call for Dominicans to increase their consumption of   locally manufactured food.

The Hon Minister says one of the most practical ways to support local producers and manufacturers is by purchasing more of their products.

The Minister spoke at the recently held Business to Business Forum for Small and Medium Sized Businesses organized by the Ministry of Tourism which is also responsible for small business.

The Hon Minister made reference to Government’s support of local manufacturers by making significant financial investments to stimulate growth and expansion of that sector.

“We have budgeted ne million in the new fiscal year targeting businesses involved in the processing of our local agricultural produce into juices. And we have to start consuming more of what we grow because what we getting, the imported juice is really basically sugar water... So it is better for us to purchase our local, fresh fruit juices made by our local entrepreneurs and local agro processors. And it is we as citizens who have to consume what we processed and what we grow and what we manufacture if we are to really take the MSMEs to the next level,” Hon. Douglas stated.

Government is also investing one million dollars to support the processing of agricultural produce into juices. It’s also providing fiscal incentives to MSME’s with an income of 250-thousand through the small business support unit, in the Ministry of Tourism.

In addition to providing financial assistance Government is also facilitating much needed training for local manufacturers.

“A job coaching programme for small to medium sized business owners and managers with digital skills in the scale of products online, online content management and effective use of social media is also planned under the Digital Transformation Project. Another significant intervention is the announcement that Government has allocated five million dollars in the 2022 2023 national budget towards th development of value added products. This was particularly targeted at the youth who have shown an interest in agricultural investment and related agro processing,” he explained.

The Hon Minister says Government’s investments in the small business sector are meant to add value to the sector with the hope of tapping into the production of new goods and services.

“One of the reasons you are here today is because the Small Business Unit within the Ministry of Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiatives is now a one stop shop where business can receive an array of services  inclusive of training, access to product testing and certification and of course the Bureau of Standards  is there for that purpose too and all of the local agro processors, I want to tell you to tap into the services available at the Bureau of Standards because they really have a lot of support services at the Bureau to help you not only in your labelling but in your testing, in your certification to ensure that your goods can reach the regional and international market and be competitive and succeed on those markets,” Hon. Douglas added.