Local manufacturers are making a concerted effort to bring their sector fully back to life following the huge body blow it suffered at the hands of Category-5 Hurricane Maria.
Insisting that manufacturing is still relevant, the Dominica Manufacturers Association is signaling an intention to make a key priority “Revival of a Battered Sector”.
The DMA is reminding the nation that “the manufacturing sector suffered a devastating blow from Hurricane Maria which left numerous facilities in ruins and wiped out the source of raw materials for the cottage industries”.
It points to some of the businesses that suffered the most: “Virgin coconut oil production that was showing much promise with a significant number of producers, before the hurricane, has been reduced to zero. The Buy Dominica Supercentre that was established in 2015 and served as an outlet for locally manufactured products was flooded and subsequently looted at a great loss to the suppliers”.
The Association has confirmed that it is in negotiations with the government of Dominica and the AID Bank to secure reasonable terms and conditions “to access the fifteen million dollars (EC$15 million) facility for manufacturing at the AID Bank. Approaches have been made to the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate the importation of agricultural products such as dry coconuts, plantains, peppers, cocoa beans and other products required for agro-processing, until such time that local production is re-established”.
According to DMA President Severin McKenzie, the year 2017 was promising to be very successful for the manufacturing sector that witnessed a marked improvement in the quality and variety of products on the market.
He says in a release announcing the association’s 7th annual general meeting scheduled for next week Wednesday, that more than sixty suppliers accounted for over two hundred local products at the BUY DOMINICA SUPERCENTRE, and that preparations were in place to establish a similar facility in the neighboring island of Guadeloupe.
McKenzie had earlier noted that that the government of Dominica had signed an agreement with the AID Bank for a Fifteen Million Dollars EC ($15,000,000.00) facility for manufacturers less than a month before Hurricane Maria.
Referring further to the wounds inflicted by Maria on Dominican manufacturers, McKenzie says the annual general meeting “will be convened amidst the closure of some of the major manufacturing facilities such as Bello Products and Dominica Breweries and Beverages Ltd, whose properties are still in ruins”.
The Association is urging its members and other manufacturers including potential manufacturers to make a special effort to attend the Annual General Meeting at the Garraway Hotel on Wednesday 21st March, 2018.
McKenzie argues that manufacturing is still a major pillar in the Dominican economy, and its revival is something that should be fully supported.