New York: The Himalayan state of Sikkim has started exploring ways to market its agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry products as well as looking at ways to creating facilities and infrastructure for processing and marketing of organic commodities from the state.

Sikkim’s Agriculture Minister Lok Nath Sharma is currently in New York and meeting with importers and business houses there to discuss furtherance of ‘Organic Sikkim’. The minister is accompanied by senior officers of the Agriculture Department, Government of Sikkim.

Another purpose of the visit is to obtain the NOP (National Organic Program) certificate from the US which is the final document needed for export of organic produce of Sikkim to the international market. A conference will be held on April 29 where the process of certification would be deliberated upon and finalized.

The minister held a series of meetings individually with a few importers at the office of Consulate General of India, New York. In the meetings, possible areas of cooperation and collaboration in the marketing of agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry products from Sikkim as well as creating facilities and infrastructure for processing and marketing of organic commodities were discussed.

Sharma met Avi Basu, CEO & Chairman, Wingsure, a digital insurance solution enterprise, aiming to leverage next-generation technologies in the protection of the lives and livelihoods of farmers.

The minister also met Barry Schiffman, Senior Advisor & Board members, Mandala Capital, a private equity firm focused on long-term and sustainable investments across the food value chain in India and South East Asia.

Schiffman shared that the company has been investing in India since 2011 in core infrastructure development such as dairy project in West Bengal, irrigation system in Maharashtra and farm fresh business in spices.

“The total investment to this date is 500 million USD. Investment was required in the state for not only creating infrastructure for post harvest management but also for partnership for developing these sectors,” he added.

Minister Lok Nath Sharma said, “The dairy sector needs immediate attention and the government would seek intervention as the area of priority.”

The minister also met with Kushal Choksi, Co-founder, Element Truffles, an ayurveda inspired food startup that makes chocolates with infused herbs, and Bhavani Parameswar, President, Indivate, (An ITC group company).

Bhavani shared, “We are diversifying business activities into the organic sector and are looking for crops such as millets, spices, seeds of flax and pumpkin. We are also interested in medicinal plants.”

The minister suggested the ITC to invest in creating a world class testing facility for organic/food products to which the CEO said a team from India would visit Sikkim to understand and present the opportunities available to take it further.

Another meeting was held with Deepak Amin, President & CEO, Deep Foods, a food manufacturer based in Union Township, New Jersey.

The company is launching an an organic beverage and is looking to source herbs and spices. It was decided that meetings should happen between the Government of Sikkim and the company’s team in Gujarat.

The delegation from Sikkim also met Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General, and Varun Jeph, Deputy Consulate General, at the Consulate General of India in New York. The Consulate General assured of all possible help for the marketing of various products from Sikkim.

Jaiswal suggested, “The Government of Sikkim should aggressively market the various commodities in the US market and the Consulate will extend all possible help in this regard.”

Also read: Arunachal CM bats for better bond with Sikkim for ‘mutual prosperity’

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