Friday, September 24
07:51 PM

‘Buying local is a national responsibility’

5 Dec 2020

Organised by the  Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MCIIP), the ongoing ‘Made in Oman’ campaign is focused on making local products more accessible to consumers. It is being held in cooperation with the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn), the Authority of Small, Medium Enterprises Development, the Consumer Protection Authority, and several other public and private sector entities. 

The campaign aims to support the sultanate’s industries by promoting their products, encouraging consumers to buy local products and supporting the growth of local industries. Additionally, it seeks to find new outlets for Omani products in commercial centres, malls and hypermarkets across the governorates of the sultanate.

Commenting on the ‘Made in Oman’ campaign, Nasima bint Yahya al Balushi, head of the national campaign team at MCIIP, pointed out that Omani products have gained a good reputation abroad for their quality. Locally made building material, food and several other kinds of products are currently exported to more than 130 countries across the world.

“Buying Omani products is a real support for the national economy. It is an attitude that contributes to the sultanate’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by increasing the national income, while the culture of buying locally made products is considered a national responsibility of each individual. It helps increase demand and consequently production of local companies, besides creating job opportunities in the private sector,” Nasima said.

Eng Saleh bin Mohammed al Shanfari, CEO of Oman Food Investment Holding Company (OFIC), and chairman of the Food Security Committee at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “It is very important to raise community awareness about the availability of the Omani products and the fact that these are the best option for consumers. Made to Omani specification standards, these are the preferred option for those seeking quality and excellence. Choosing Omani products is a direct support for the national economy and contributes to creating new job opportunities as well.” 

Shanfari added, “There is need for a wide awareness campaign among the community through various media on Omani products. This could be done through legislation or guidance on giving Omani products – whether a product of big businesses, SMEs or home made items, as long as they adhere to Omani specifications – the required space on shelves of major stores and hypermarkets.”

He noted that product packaging and display play a big role in enhancing marketability of Omani products. He also emphasised that Omani products must be given a fair chance considering some imported products enjoy financial support from their countries, especially those that encourage exports to obtain more hard currency. 

In this context, he pointed out that there is regulation against commercial dumping. But its implementation and thorough understanding need time. 

He also stated that investing in food security is a safety valve for any country. The sultanate has been aware of this from early on. Hence the founding of OFIC by the government, which is a clear evidence of the early realisation of the importance of food security.

The sultanate has established a strong system that integrates with targets of food security by creating a complete food reserve programme, either through local storage or working with suppliers to ensure the availability of a minimum level of basic commodities at any time. The system also ensures the availability of commodities in times of emergency.

The experience of investing in food industries in the sultanate is a model to be emulated and should continue. Cases in point are the Mazoon Dairy Company and other local poultry products, which have proved the ability of Omani products to gain the confidence of consumers quickly. 

In addition, initiatives by electronic sales platforms and home delivery companies grew significantly when movement restrictions and health safety preventive measures saw fewer people visiting outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sa’id bin Abdullah al Kharousi, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Omani Farmers Association, said it is necessary to intensify media campaigns at all levels through print, visual and audio media, as well as in schools, colleges and universities, urging consumers to opt for Omani products. 

He added, “There is need for Omani products to get a special display at large hypermarkets to distinguish these from imported products, as well as setting guidelines for local products, specifying quality and packaging methods to make these stand out and attract consumers.”

According to Kharousi, there is a plan to target some European markets – including Britain, France, Germany and Italy – to increase export of Omani products to these markets. Studies are currently being conducted with a similar aim of markets in Russia and its neighbouring countries. For such an effort to succeed, it would need the support of the concerned authorities, including the aviation sector. 

Kharousi confirmed that there is an ongoing effort to improve production processes and to introduce modern technologies in agriculture, including the use of artificial intelligence.

Echoing Kharousi’s view, Eng Adnan bin Mohammad al Alawi, CEO of Oman Dates Production and Packing Company, also emphasised the importance of intensifying advertising campaigns of local companies through various media to support Omani products.

 

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