THE Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing has stepped up promotion of the “buy local” campaign with a policy for its staff to don clothing made from the Seshoeshoe fabric every Wednesday.
According to Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Minister, Chalane Phori, the policy is meant to stimulate demand for locally-made products and to foster the development of local enterprises.
Mr Phori made the remarks this past week during an event to launch the policy and to showcase a number of locally-made products.
Some of the locally-produced items included dish washing liquids, bleaches, foam bath gels, body lotions, bottled water, biscuits, and a soccer ball.
Clad in a Seshoeshe fabric suit, along with the ministry’s staffers, he said local enterprises faced the formidable challenge of securing markets for their products as most consumers tended to prefer imports.
Mr Phori expressed hope that their decision to lead by example by wearing locally-made products would inspire other people to do the same. He said Lesotho’s success in international trade would only become a reality if it is mastered locally.
“We will not succeed in trading internationally before we start successfully trading locally first. Charity begins at home.” Mr Phori said, adding that the showcased products dispelled the notion that Basotho were unable to produce anything for themselves.
“These are some of the examples of products manufactured by our own people. The ingredients used to manufacture them were mostly sourced locally.
“So, it is not true that Basotho are unable to produce anything, and that their lot is to be employed. What an insult! We are not meant to work for others. All we need is a mind-set change to achieve great things.”
The minister said the lack of a standardising body in the country had greatly hampered the competitiveness of local enterprises.
“The establishment of a product standardising body has been mooted for many years but it has not yet materialised. Is it because somebody is benefitting from its unavailability?” he queried.
“We have resolved that the (standardising) facility will find us already in motion for the benefit of the people. So, I implore you all to buy local products.”
Mr Phori added: “In the last financial year, I am told that M40 million was set aside to develop the standards facility, but very little of it was used. If the standards facility is clearly the obstacle hindering our trade development prospects, why haven’t we addressed it until today? But like I said, I have already talked to the minister of Trade to soon get this issue sorted out once and for all.”
He also revealed that a massive procession was in the works to encourage Basotho to support locally-made products.
The ministry’s Marketing department Director, Lekhooe Makhate, also said over M1 billion was being spent annually on imported consumer products.