IMPHAL, Jan 19: In an attempt to provide a platform to aspiring food entrepreneurs, existing SMEs in food, agriculture professionals and students, progressive farmers, Self Help Groups etc and share their views and learn about the latest initiatives and opportunities available in the field of agro food industries, a one day conference on ‘Linking prospective food entrepreneurs with Govt schemes and markets’ was held today at Hotel Classic Grande, Imphal.
The conference was organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries of India (ASSOCHAM) in association with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India.
The conference was organized in collaboration with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), North Eastern Council (NEC), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Quality Council of India (QCI) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Addressing at the inaugural function, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla who attended the programme as the chief guest stated that Manipur has the potential to develop in the field of agro business. Efficient utilization of the available natural resources would be vital for developing agro based business activities.
She added that the Government, industries and scientists need to formulate policies to attract youth towards agriculture at the grassroots level. As the State faces unemployment problem, food processing could play a vital role in economic development.
The State is popular for its horticulture crops and over 85 percent of the State’s economy depends on agriculture based industries.
The Governor showed her appreciation to ASSOCHAM and the MoFPI for organizing such conference where issues of linking farmers with markets will be deliberated.
“17 different skill based sectors have been identified in Manipur to encourage young and budding entrepreneurs including eco and agriculture tourism in which organizations like ASSOCHAM can join hands and work towards the growth of agriculture and food processing sector in the North Eastern region,” Dr Najma said.
As part of the opening ceremony, the Governor released a knowledge paper titled ‘Finance, Technology and Marketing: Key Enablers for Agri Processing Sector’.
Among the speakers, senior director, ASSOCHAM Dr Om S Tyagi said that the food processing industry has made significant progress in the North Eastern region of India. Areas like agro and 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 Meghalaya.
At present, special emphasis is given on non-traditional crops such as oilseeds, groundnut, tea, coffee, medicinal plants and other crops, he added.
While Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce & Industries, Government of Manipur L Lakher said that finding a market is very critical in food industry. The main problem is small markets and also weak marketing of the products. Therefore collaborative efforts are required by the Centre and the State Government.
On the other hand, chief general manager of NABARD, Manipur AC Srivastava added that many food processing units are coming up including nine designated food parks and six industrial food parks to encourage young entrepreneurs and farmers. In 2016, NABARD spent about Rs 90 crore under different schemes in agriculture.
Srivastava also said that cluster farming and market need to be formed for better efficiency in food processing sector for quick results and smooth material supply.
Other dignitaries who spoke at the inaugural session were Director of Department of Horticulture & Soil Conservation, Government of Manipur K Kipgen, Adviser of Horticulture, North Eastern Council (NEC), Shillong Iboiyama Meetei, Deputy Director of National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB), Quality Council of India Vani Bhambri Arora, Joint Director of ICAR Research Complex, NEH Region, Manipur Centre, Imphal Dr Narendra Prakash.
Source: The Sangai Express