By JOHN TRIA
Bakeshops baking. Restaurants slowly restarting dine in and delivery. Mall shops and department stores serving customers. Construction and property development projects continuing where they left off. Clinics now taking in patients. Vehicular traffic slightly thicker as public transport returns.
All of these activities are restarting with lines drawn to guide customers and patrons on where to stand and sit, with jeepneys providing plastic barriers to shield passengers, complying with guidelines provided by government.
Many new businesses have begun migrating online, while many online sellers have begun registering their business in order to be documented so that they can take on loans and other benefits in order to expand.
In many places in Mindanao, the transition to the Modified General and General Community Quarantine has begun, and with it comes the chance to carefully and safely bounce back from the economic difficulties. It is hoped that these will spur safe recovery under the proverbial new normal.
Moving forward, the guidelines set by the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious diseases provides the guidelines upon which local governments will base their measures on the ground. The latest memos and the June 15 announcement provide a more nuanced approach that considers the needs of specific areas for either more stringent or relaxed restrictions on economic activities.
As I have written previously, certain regions particularly in Mindanao will likely recover earlier than others, since its comparative advanes such as space, available food and other supplies make it easier to rebound from disruptions and a viable place for investment.
A lesson here for many businesses is that they will need to ensure a presence in many areas, not just one, in order to allow business operations to continue despite disruptions. Diversification to and innovation is the and many have taken advane of new online channels to sell their products. With technology, this is possible. We hope that internet speeds improve so that these expansions and adjustments can proceed.
Farms and the farm tourism opportunity
A positive note is that many have begun returning to their agricultural properties and are now looking at reinvigorating these, with a few turning them into farm resorts to cater to a growing demand for open spaces — obvious social distancing.
Republic Act 10816, the Farm Tourism Development act of 2015,identifies farm tourism as a viable means to promote agribusiness. Davao’s farm tourism council to promote farm tourism.
Opportunities beyond Mindanao
The key to Mindanao’s recovery and survival is getting more of its excess production off the island through more efficient and affordable logistics, particularly to serve customer demand in the Visayas. Higher integration with Visayan island economies will be needed, particularly the high demand cities of Iloilo and Cebu.
Beyond the country, there is a need to identify integration opportunities in the Pacific island nations such as Palau, Nauru, and rediscover the BIMP EAGA Region. A potential supply and value chain arena, this subregion is composed of Mindanao, areas in Celebes in Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam, this subregion has long been promoted as a hub of economic activity.
No to online scams
We all need to take a closer look at the online scams and unscrupolous and unfair online sellers against which which complaints are made. We cannot allow greed to steal the hard earned money from already reduced income. Perhaps the DTI and DICT can look more closely into this. Thus, it makes sense to deal only with registered online businesses.
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