The 33rd Negros Trade Fair launched its theme, “Sweet Talk: Sugar & Spice; Awesome & Nice”, yesterday to pay tribute to the sugar industry that played an important role in what Negros Occidental has become now, its chairperson, Catherine Lobaton, said.
During the theme launching yesterday, Lobaton said that this mono-crop industry played a significant role in the dynamic culture of Negrenses as the province used to depend on this commodity until the crisis.
“We want to go back to the Negrense lifestyle before and how the sugar industry helped uplift it,” she said in an interview.
Lobaton said they want the exhibitors to create products inspired by sugar—its components and by-products—that show their creativity and innovation.
In a way, this year’s trade fair also aims to market the local sugar industry despite the issues it faced recently, she added.
As the theme was launched, the early bird application for exhibitors also opened yesterday and she said that NTF hopes to cater to more exhibitors this year compared to last year.
The trade fair will feature booths from various sectors - natural and organic, fashion, gifts, decor and houseware, furniture, food, and tourism.
NEW WAVE PRODUCERS
Executive director Elka Torrejon of the Association of Negros Producers also said that in this trade fair, they want to encourage the new generation of Negrense entrepreneurs to join this longest running provincial trade fair being staged in Manila.
“We are coming up with new ideas to encourage young entrepreneurs to join the exhibition,” she said, adding that they could be children of the ANP members, or new entrants to the industry.
NTF is one of the major programs of ANP annually, intended for its members to sell and market their products for export, she said.
Torrejon said they are planning to create pocket events to coincide with the trade fair that will engage the youth.
“We want them to feel and experience how it is to participate in a trade fair set in Manila as NTF could be a platform to engage the local market and the opportunity to export,” she said, adding “With more young entrepreneurs joining, this could attract more trade fair goers.”
Torrejon and Lobaton also urged the participants in this year’s trade fair to be more innovative to attract more buyers and emulate the success of last year’s NTF.
Torrejon said that joining NTF is an investment as it has competitive fees and offers services that are worth it.
“The trade fair encourages innovations, and new products from producers,” she said, adding that these innovations will be shown in ANP’s annual Bulawan Awards in July and the producers should ensure that the products on display during the awarding are already reproduced and ready for the 33rd NTF.
Apart from the youth, Negrenses outside Negros are also encouraged to join the trade fair.
Social media will also be used to engage more people and it has a significant contribution to the turnout of last year’s trade fair, Torrejon said.
Last year, there were 118 exhibitors and the trade fair earned P25.5 million, the highest ever in the 32 years of the ANP’s annual event.
In 2016, it earned P19.5 million.
The top five grossers in the 2017 trade fair were the Negros Oriental Arts and Heritage, Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, Felicia’s, Inasalan sa Dalan, and Virgie’s Homemade Products.*MLG
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