Food processing industry immense potential in NE states : Teli

Itanagar, Sep 3 :  Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industry, Rameswar Teli on Tuesday emphasized that food processing is an industry that has immense potential in the north eastern states 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.

“I am surprise that food processing as an industry was never given a second thought in the North East even by intellectuals. 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,” Teli said.

Speaking at the inaugural function of a Workshop on Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY) announced 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.

PMKSY is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.

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.

To drive home the Ministry’s commitment to uplift the sector, the Union Minister urged the state government to fast- track the establishment of a Mega Food Park in Arunachal already approved by the Ministry.

“Of the Rs 140 crore for North East, 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.

“Nature has given us so much, we can easily become the richest and happiest state in the country. But 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,” the Chief Minister said.

Khandu informed that the state government has already prepared a roadmap 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 90000 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 amongst the mass on the food processing sector besides central government’s special assistance in grant of funds for implementation of schemes.