Itanagar: Union minister of state for food processing industry Rameswar Teli on Tuesday said that food processing is an industry that has immense potential in the Northeast but hasn’t been explored to its optimum yet and assured his ministry will leave no stone unturned to make it a game-changer in the region.
Speaking at the inaugural function of a workshop on ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY)’ at the state banquet hall in Itanagar, Teli, who represents Dibrugarh Parliamentary constituency in Parliament, expressed surprise that food processing as an industry that was never given a second thought in the Northeast even by intellectuals. He said the region with its vast resources and bio-diversity produces ample exotic fruits and vegetables, which can be made economically viable through the food processing industry.
To give a fillip to the industry, the Union minister said that his ministry is planning to establish a food technology institute in Assam so that youths of the region can qualify as food technology professionals.
Citing the rich potential of Arunachal Pradesh in this sector, Teli called for creation of a food processing department to exclusively deal with the subject and offered full cooperation of his ministry.
“Of the Rs 140 crore for Northeast, we still have Rs 110 crore unspent. Therefore, states of the region need to accelerate development of mega food parks and mini food parks as envisaged and proposed,” Teli informed.
He urged entrepreneurs and progressive farmers present to take full advantage of the workshop and equip themselves with prospects and benefits under the PMKSY.
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu informed that all decks have been cleared for establishment of the mega food park near the state capital and the state government will provide all basic facilities like water and power supply as required under the scheme.
Underscoring the state’s potential in agri-horti produces like kiwi, orange, apple, pineapple, banana, tea, etc, Khandu said if food processing is taken up extensively, it in itself could change the economy of the farming community.
He cited lack of market knowledge as one big hindrance in take off of the farming sector and called for enhancing farmers’ knowledge on latest market trends and demands. “Nature has given us so much, we can easily become the richest and happiest state in the country,” he said.
Khandu informed that the state government has already prepared a road map to boost the agri-horti sector based on which schemes are being formulated and launched phase-wise. “We have set a target to at least benefit 90,000 farmers in the state by 2022,” he added.
Deputy chief minister Chowna Mein and state’s industry minister Tumke Bagra also spoke on the occasion. Both admitted the need for creating awareness among the masses on the food processing sector besides Central government’s special assistance in grant of funds for implementation of schemes.
PM Kisan SAMPADA Yojana is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet. It will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country but also help in providing better returns to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers income, creating huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level and enhancing the export of the processed foods.