April 18, 2014
Photo: provided by Ms. Ami Kitajima
H.E. Mr. Shiro Sadoshima, Ambassador of Japan,
Mr. Shubhashish Bose, Vice-Chairman of Export Promotion Bureau,
Ms. Cecilia Ami Kitajima, Film Director and Promoter of Dhaka Rickshaw Fiesta,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Assalam alaikum. Shuvo Noboborsho.
First, I would like to express my deep gratitude for inviting to such an event of great relivance to social and economic development of Bangladesh to which we, Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, has been engagaed in for forty years.
I understand that one of the aims to conduct the "Rickshaw Art Exhibition & District Fair" is to develop the quality of Bangladeshi products up to international standards. I also heard that this initiative had started based on a Japanese campaign called "Isson Ippin Undou" or "One Village, One Product" movement to promote local specialties of each village. Taking this opportunity, I would like to share with you a little bit history of this "One Village, One Product" movement and how it developed in Japan and other parts of the world.
"One Village, One Product" movement was born in Oita Prefecture in the most southern main island of Japan in 1979. In those days, Oita and other rural areas in Japan were suffering from population decline, for many younger generations moved to metropolitan cities like Tokyo and Osaka seeking better job opportunities.
Facing this problem, Mr. Morihiko Hiramatsu, the then Governor of Oita Prefecture, proposed "One Village, One Product" movement. His idea was to promote local specialties of high-value which would be appreciated by customers in other parts of Japan to revitalize the local economy and community. He also emphasized the importance of creative and voluntary spirits to turn challenges into opportunities.
Now, Oita Prefecture boasts of net production value of 140 billion yen or 11,000 crore taka with 336 products, including Shitake mushroom, Kabosu orange, and Bungo beef. Some of these products are regarded as high-value brand in Japan or even in the world.
Since 1980s, not only other prefectures of Japan but also other countries have started promoting "One Village, One Product" movement. Currently, more than 20 countries in Asia and Africa have introduced this movement with assistance of Japan, and some countries have achieved remarkable success.
For example, a province in Kyrgyzstan introduced "One Village, One Product" movement in 2006 with assistance of JICA. After going through trials and errors for a few years, about 20,000 goods of handicrafts and ornaments were exported to Japan in 2013. These handicrafts were very popular among Japanese customers for their high quality and sophisticated design. In the process of introducing their own products, people of Kyrgyzstan have learned how to produce quality products which can be exported.
Although "One Village, One Product" movement is not a panacea for economic development, it is also true that participating village people reinforce the spirit of self-help and cooperation through the process of developing their own specialties. I think it is this kind of spirit that revitalized many communities in Japan as well as in other countries.
Now, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh is promoting "One District One Product (ODOP)" scheme to diversify the country's export products based on Japan's experience I have just told. I hope EPB and Bangladeshi people will learn the spirit of self-help and cooperation through the experience of promoting their own products. I believe such a spirit will serve as a sound basis for development of Bangladesh.
JICA has been supporting the "Financial Sector Project for the Development of Small and Medium sized Enterprises" of Bangladesh Bank. Through this refinancing scheme of 5 billion yen or 375 crore taka, Bangladesh Bank provides medium-to-long term investment credit to SMEs across the country through 46 Participatory Financial Institutions. Till today, more than 200 SMEs secured loans of 145 crore taka to enhance productivity, thereby generating employment and bolstering the economy. I believe SMEs are the main contributors to the development of local industry and society. Through supporting such SMEs, JICA would like to contribute to "One District One Product (ODOP)" movement in Bangladesh.
Thank you. Shobaike dhonnobad.