"You can adopt the attitude there is nothing you can do, or you can see the challenge as your call to action. "
- Catherine Pulsifer
According to Wikipedia, Local Purchasing or Local Buying is – a preference to buy locally produced goods and services over those produced farther away. It is very often abbreviated as a positive goal, “buy local”.
So basically, when we say “buy local”, we are referring to products which have being manufactured in our vicinity. This is as much applicable within a state as to the entire country.
Local product is a general term which covers a plethora of “products”; according to indiastat.com a few are –
- Locally cultivated crops, vegetables, fruits and the entire kin of food products
- Locally manufactured garment.
- Paints and varnishes
- Tobacco and liquor
- Fertilisers and botanical products
- Metallic and non-metallic products
- Rubber and resin-based products
- Printing and reproduction of media
- Paper and paper products
- Wood and wood products, etc.
These are just a few amongst the huge variety of products which are and can be made locally. Let us take India as an example; such products are definitely made in the country, yet there is a wide spread general tendency of the economically sound public to buy products which are imported.
As a result, India spends billions of dollars on importing products which are easily available in the local market, because the tendency of the people is to buy things based on “brand” value. The money spent on importing could easily be used for better purposes.
But I am not going to dwell on that, this article focuses on the “advantages of local purchasing”. So, I will try and break it down into categories and try and highlight the pros of shopping products which need more local buyers.
· Local Food Products –
By local food we generally mean crops, vegetables and fruits grown within one’s own city or state or maybe even in one’s own field. We may also broaden the “food”
category and include meat, eggs and dairy products. Now there are some tremendous advantages of buying local produce.
- Upfront there are the obvious nutritional gains. Local produce definitely has less preservatives. We can buy them from our local market maybe even on the very day it has been harvested. Hence this preserves the nutrition, is as fresh as possible and more often has less pesticides. Now it is almost impossible for us to get 100% pesticide free products, but by buying local we can encourage the farmers, increasing their profits, cutting out middlemen so that the farmers reap rewards of their toil and this may, in turn make them use harmful chemicals less. There have been reports of artificially enhancing the growth of crops by using extremely harmful chemicals, which unknowingly the general public consume. Hence by buying local we can improve the financial condition of the farmers which in turn may be beneficial for all. When the consumers know where their food is coming from and how it is being produced, whether the standard protocols are being met, this makes the farmers responsible. They then realise they may be held accountable if the standards are not met, and hence this will facilitate accountability
- Now in the previous point I have spoken about how purchasing local can facilitate economic stability of the farming community. Now one may ask how. Well to start, when we buy directly from farmers, especially those who till very small lands, we cut out any third party from making money and thereby increase the profit of the farmers. This in turn makes them able to invest more in their land and crops, they do not have to invest in transportation and cold-storages and hence reap more profit. This helps their own families and hence buying local also serves a social purpose.
- By getting local meat and dairy products we can make sure that the sellers meet all standards just as is the case with farmers. We can make sure the dairy products, be it milk, ghee, paneer or butter, it is of good quality and absolutely fresh. This is absolutely essential for the consumers wellbeing. Same goes for meat. In case of any discrepancy we can hold the vendors responsible, so it increases overall accountability amongst the producers thereby increasing their social awareness and helps build a stronger community.
- Another important point I would like to add – many people nowadays buy almost everything from supermarkets and malls. Now such supermarkets they bring their stock from far away fields, they invest in transportation and sometimes we even get vegetables and fruits that are not seasonal. This goes to show that those unseasonal produce are from cold-storage. We do not know how old they are, if they at all have any nutritional value left, whether any colour has been applied to make them look fresh and what not. So, in short, such produce bought from supermarkets have a high chance of being very harmful. Contrary to this, as stated above local produce is much fresh, retains a lot of its nutritional value and supports the economy.
· Local Garments –
It is well known how Pakistan and Bangladesh are known globally as exporters of some of the finest clothing. So, by investing in local weavers we can take a step towards sustainability. Instead of importing branded products on which an average individual spends a substantial amount, if we spend the same on local garments, we can get almost the same quality product; yet the amount of clothing we can buy is much more. On top, by investing in local businesses we can strengthen our economy, thereby reducing import cost and also create a lot of jobs. We can thus give a moral boost to our weavers and by supporting a particular industry, be it garments or consumerable products, we are able to give a boost to all those whose livelihood depends on such industries. There are many well to do local garment manufacturing companies, from whom if we continue to buy, they will be able to provide many jobs – be it those operating machinery, the designers, boosting the raw material providers, etc. The textile industry is definitely one of India’s strong points and it can be further strengthened by more investments. Textile industry is also one the biggest employers. According to theuniquegroup.com –
“Clothing items from big box stores are often made oversea …it’s important to have transparency about how your clothes were made and where the materials came from. Buying local allows you to speak to the people close to the clothing who can give you insights on your new dress because they made it personally
If you value eco-friendly initiatives, then it’s important to buy local. Local designers often try to incorporate materials native to their local land, making buying local a sustainable choice. For example, a pair of American jeans was likely made from American cotton, making it a more sustainable choice than a pair of jeans made overseas that had to ship its cotton to manufacture the jeans. Another reason local clothing is sustainable is that Canada, the United States, and the European Union all have strict guidelines for waste disposal, so you can rest assured that any waste from manufacturing your garments was safely disposed of.”
· Locally manufactured machinery, including industrial machinery and vehicles –
According to the manufacture in India 2025 initiative, the goal is to invest a large part of India’s yearly GDP for manufacturing high end machinery and equipments, be it for industrial purpose like diesel generators, wind turbines or construction equipments– fork lift trucks, cranes, bulldozers, etc. Also, machinery for farming is absolutely crucial. One very interesting fact is that India is the world leader in tractor production and is an exporter of the same. But on the downside, almost everything else is imported. So, the basic concept behind “Manufacture in India 2025”, is obviously to strengthen the economy, provide jobs, increase export rather than import. By doing so we can also boost the education sector. When one makes highly advanced machinery and maybe even uses robots to manufacture products on a large scale at a high speed, it is imperative that the company would require highly skilled workers who are adept in handling such machinery and repairing them. So, it goes without saying that the educational institutions would then provide such high end courses to meet the needs of the indigenous companies, thereby improving quality of skilled workers. This would not only open new avenues for learning and earning, but also would keep the country at par with the ever-evolving technological advancements.
Let us now turn our attention towards the automobile industry. Roughly 5 million automobiles are sold per year in India. A whopping 51%^ of the automobile market belongs to Maruti Suzuki, which is 56%* of which is owned by Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan. Among those made in the country Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra grab top spots. It is clear that company making most profit is Japanese. The foreign companies do create a lot of job opportunities, but if the same labour was put in an Indian company, it would help the economy much more; by devoting labour to local companies, the 51% share could be devoted for growth inside the country.
· Local Technological Advancements –
In connection with the above point, there is an intrinsic relation to technology and automobile industry.
This interrelation has been very well explained on the website dnd.co.in –
“Technology to be key differentiator
In the coming decade, increasing localization levels, electric vehicles, vehicular-connectivity, safety and auto electronics and supply chain competencies will be the buzz words in the Indian automotive industry. The coming years will witness substantial increase in the use of electronics in automobiles. Considering the growing importance of electronics and connectivity in vehicles, thrust will have to be given on developing less expensive electronics to ensure greater demand for electronics. Similarly, to develop connected and safer vehicles in order to enhance invehicle experience, auto OEMs and auto component companies will have to converge with other industries (e.g. IT companies) to develop and facilitate low-cost solutions without compromising on quality to make technologies affordable and accessible. In a nutshell, next-generation technologies such as cloud computing, big data, advanced analytics, social media marketing, mobility, voice of customer management and e-commerce across the automotive supply chain will be the way forward for this industry in the coming decade.”
There is a stress on “low-cost” solutions. It can only be implemented if the companies, be it IT or vehicle manufacturers are based in India and develop solutions with their locally based employees.
Let us now delve into the world of computers, AI and smartphones.
iBall, IBM, Wipro these are some of the indigenous Indian companies. IndiaNIC, Unified Infotech, SPEC INDIA are some of the indigenous software companies. The Indian software and hardware market is huge, but majority of engineering graduates are employed in foreign companies. The companies are mass recruiters and while they provide many with a job fresh out college, the work that an employee does is equivalent to what is done by his foreign counterpart. But the remuneration of the Indian employee is a lot less. So basically, these companies are getting maximum work done while paying much less, hence they are reaping huge profits.
So, following this if investment is made in local start-ups, great technological advancements can be made. This however depends on investing time and money behind educational institutes, training students to be able to be creative and driven.
There is a huge pool of talented students, so if the government invests in their creative ideas and backs them up, great leaps can be made in the field of technology.
Be it computers, supercomputers, AI aided technology or smartphones. Just by tapping on new ideas, existing technology will evolve to its next generation as it always has. But instead of always importing, if investments are made and local start ups are backed up, India may well become a technological giant. This in turn has huge economical prospects.
Coming to technology for developing diagnostic imaging machinery – the technology and how it works is known. Hence just as in the case with computer technology, initial investments can result in great rewards.
Other Advantages in investing and buying local goods –
Well to start of- HUGE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS.
How, one may ask, by buying local is environment benefited?
To answer that if we go back and check the above points, a certain trend is found. If we buy locally produced food, garments, machinery and automobiles – this drastically reduces the pollution that would occur if we did import these; in case of food have them brought to us from far away fields. The pollution caused by planes, ships, cars or trains would reduce drastically, thereby keeping a check on release of harmful gases into the atmosphere. By increasing accountability of the producers; farmers or textile merchants, even pharmaceutical companies, it would be possible to reduce water pollution to the bare minimum. Pesticide usage along with release of harmful growth hormones, chemical wate from factories could be kept at bay as by keeping production local we would be able to point those responsible and no one wants a law suit.
ECONOMIC GROWTH – The entire point of “buying local”, is to stimulate economic growth. Manufacturing and buying local products is aimed at strengthening the economy. First of all, it would boost local industries, reduce import cost, reduce transportation cost and also create lots of jobs. It would reduce unemployment and KEEP TAXES LOW. It would also have social benefits- the better the economy, the better the education, the lesser the needy and destitute, less number of unemployed and overall better standard of living; more importantly a countrywide average standard of living with less standard deviation.
To Conclude –
From the above points stated we can deduce multifaceted advantages of local purchase. The points are however very sound in theory, and it is yet to be ascertained how practical they are. One may try and apply them in small sub-urban areas first, for a few months and then collect data from observation of the overall result. This must be done in several districts and towns of several states to get an idea of the central tendency of the theory. If the results are positive and are going as expected then VOILA, a great achievement for everyone. But, just in case things don’t go as planned, we need to sit and sort out the loop holes; if any; and take every variable into consideration. Yet even if we do so, there are certain circumstances which are totally out of human control. YOU GUESSED IT; Covid-19 – in such situations where the deviation goes haywire one cannot predict the outcome. All we can do is learn from it and just be prepared with contingency plans for the future.
But to end on a positive and happy note – let us all try and support local produce, let us try and understand each other’s problems and work towards a plausible solution; let us all remain strong and healthy and beat Covid-19 by staying indoors.