Shillong: The three-day North East Food Show 2019 concluded with a chief ministers’ conclave in Shillong on Friday. The conclave, which was chaired by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma, was attended by Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Arunachal chief minister Pema Khandu; Union minister of tourism, civil aviation, commerce & industry BS Pant; Union minister of state for sports and youth affairs Kiren Rijiju and Union minister of state for food processing Rameswar Teli.
In his address, Sangma said that the first edition of the food show witnessed 250 exhibitors, besides B2B discussions and training programmes. He informed that different hotels have expressed interest to procure vegan meat-like jackfruits.
He said that the response for homemade fruit wine has been great and the government is looking at coming up with a policy to regulate wine-making so that both the farmers and entrepreneurs can benefit. Sangma also announced that the North East Food Show will be an annual event, with the second edition scheduled on November 26, 27 and 28 next year, taking the food sector and all stakeholders in the food industry to new heights.
In his speech, Union MoS Rijiju said that food is crucial to human civilisation and the identity of the people is associated with the food of the place. He added that the food of the Northeast is known to be healthy and organic and that within Northeast the food business is enormous providing attractive career options on a sustainable basis. He said that Northeast needs to look at the quality and not the quantity of food produced to make food and food processing a part of the economic growth of the region.
Union MoS Teli said that Northeast is renowned for organic farming which must be showcased and emulated in other parts of the country. He said that the ministry of food processing is focusing on organic farming and products. He informed that Mega Food Parks have been sanctioned for all Northeastern states, except for Meghalaya and Sikkim, but announced that the sanction for Meghalaya for a Mega Food Park will happen soon. He also assured all support and help from his ministry for food processing industries.
Tripura CM Deb in his speech called for concerted and integrated efforts from all the eight Northeastern states for a transformative change in the food industry. He said that each state is well known for a particular fruit or food habit and that can be taken advantage of.
Arunachal Pradesh CM Khandu, while highlighting the strengths of his state, said that every developing nation or state has to focus on its primary sector — agriculture — and India as a whole and the Northeast is dependent on this sector. He hoped that the North East Food Show will be a changing factor for the entire region.
Giving a summary of the first North East Food Show, principal secretary, agriculture, Dr Shakeel Ahamed, said that the three days’ food show had sector-wise sessions specifically road marked for North East. He said the overall idea that has come out from the sessions is that for the North East the focus should be on niche, unique, high value, low volume farming products. He said the sessions and discussions have shown the avenues and opportunities that every stakeholder from industries, supply and value chain, policymakers and academicians can come together and work for a common cause which can make North East a rising area and corridor of success for the country.
Various signing of MoUs and the release of the North East Gastronomic Handbook were also held during the occasion. CM Sangma also felicitated the trade counsellors and ambassadors during the function.