The North East has immense potential in the agricultural sector: Mr Ganga

Shillong, November 15: A one day Conference on “Linking Startups and SMEs in Food Processing with Government Schemes & Markets” was organized today by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries of India (ASSOCHAM) in collaboration with Ministry of Food & Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India and ICAR Research Centre for NEH Region, Umiam, Meghalaya for providing a platform to aspiring food entrepreneurs, existing SMEs in food, agriculture professionals & students, progressive farmers, Self Help Groups, etc. for sharing their views and learn about latest initiatives and opportunities available in the field of Agro Food Industries.

Mr Ganga Prasad, Hon’ble Governor of Meghalaya was the chief guest for the occasion addressing the august gathering he said that North East has immense potential in the agricultural sector and its base economy is agrarian. The production of the region has increased and the potential of agro based agriculture needs to be developed.

The state of Meghalaya is bestowed with abundant natural resources and the resources need to be tapped for the development of the state which in return will create a lot of employment opportunities for the youth. The potential for Agro-based food processing industries in the state of Meghalaya is very high.

Besides the major food crops of rice and maize, the state is also renowned for its horticultural crops like orange, lemon. Apart from the above the state has achieved signal success in the cultivation of non-traditional crops like tea, cashew nut, oilseeds, tomato, mushroom, wheat, etc. There is enough potential for setting up a starch based processing unit in the State. Plantation crops like coffee, rubber, black pepper and arecanut are also becoming important products.

A major breakthrough has been made in tea cultivation and tea gardens have come up in various parts of the State.  Focusing on the Prime Ministers vision of “doubling farmer’s income” he said that the technologies should reach the far-flung districts of the state and increase the revenue generation, which will lead to the development of the nation. He added that such conferences will bring out innovative idea and the platform will act as an exposure to the budding entrepreneurs and they can get linkages to the market.

Mr B Paul Muktieh, Chairman & Managing Director, NEDFi discussed various financial schemes funded by NEDFi to help farmers and rural youths to develop into successful Agri entrepreneur. Process food enhances the employment opportunity. It also enhances the demand of the farm produce.  NEDFi has been engaging itself in various developmental and promotional activities of NER since its inception, which has helped to build its image as a developmental financial institution of the North Eastern Region of India.

This policy on Corporate Social Responsibility is an effort to make NEDFi’s CSR activities more effective and meaningful and to channelize it in a manner which will enable this Corporation to touch more lives and bring more smiles to people.

Mr B. Mawlong, Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Government of Meghalaya in his inaugural address said that Meghalaya is basically an agricultural state with about 80% of its total population depending entirely on agriculture for their livelihood. The total cropped area in the State has increased by about 42 per cent during the last twenty-five years. Food grain production sector covers an area of over 60 per cent of the total crop area.

Today the state can claim that about 42 percent area under paddy has been covered with HYV with the average productivity of 2300 kgs/ha. So also is the case with Maize and Wheat where the productivity have increased tremendously with the introduction of HYV from 534 kgs/ha during 1971-72 to 1218 kgs/ha of Maize and from 611 kgs/ha to 1508 kgs/ha of Wheat. New emphasis is laid on pulses, oilseeds and cash crops. An autonomous board is set up to promote plantation crops, pioneering work done in tea cultivation, with the State having 253 small tea growers at present.

Welcoming the gathering Dr Ramgopal Laha In -charge Director ICAR NEH said the objective of the conference is to create awareness for the budding entrepreneurs about the various government schemes, with a special focus on aromatic plants and spices as the region has a wide scope in this sector. This conference focuses to act as a linage to the markets and discuss the challenges faced by the entrepreneurs and minimize the post harvest wastage. The conference is a platform to innovation ideas and the entrepreneurs should make the most out of it.

Dr. Om S Tyagi, Senior Director, ASSOCHAM, shared that the food processing industry has made some significant progress in North Eastern region of India. Areas like – Agro & Horticulture Processing, Processing of Plantation Crops, Animal Husbandry and Meat Processing Industries have been declared as potential area in the promotion of industrial activities in the state of Meghalaya. Special emphasis is presently laid on the non-traditional crops, such as oilseeds, groundnut, tea, coffee, medicinal plants and other crops.

Announcing that North East region has been on atop ASSOCHAM’s radar, he announced that a three-day workshop-cum-exhibition involving the farmers would be conducted here in February next year to give a special emphasis in the larger interest of the farmers to the thunderous applause of the gathering. Dr. Arnab Sen, Head, Division of Social Science ICAR-RC while delivering the vote of thanks, highlighted the importance of Conference for the enthusiastic budding entrepreneurs for starting new ventures in agriculture.

Other speakers who addressed the Conference included Shri P K Marbaniang, Managing Director, Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation Ltd., Ms. Hemelyne Lyngdoh, Director, Department of Horticulture, Government of Meghalaya, Shri P. C. Roy, Senior ZM, NERAMAC, Dr. Sanjeeb Kakoty, Associate Professor, IIM Shillong, Shri Aswini Bhattacharjya, Director, SeSTA Development Services and Shri Sajjan Kumar Tharad, Secretary, Frontier Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Meghalaya.

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