Itanagar, Sep 3: Emphasising that the food processing industry has immense potential in the North-East (NE) but has not been explored to its optimum yet, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Food Processing Industries Rameswar Teli on Tuesday assured that 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) here, Mr Teli expressed surprise that food processing as an industry was never thought of in the NE 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, he called for creation of a food processing department to exclusively deal with the subject and offered full cooperation.
To drive home the Ministry’s commitment to uplift the sector, Mr Teli 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,” he informed.
Mr Teli urged entrepreneurs and progressive farmers present to take full advantage of the workshop and equip themselves with prospects and benefits under the PMKSY.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu , who was also present, 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, Mr 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,” Mr Khandu said.
He 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.
His cabinet colleagues, deputy chief minister Chowna Mein and Industry Minister Tumke Bagra, who were also present, 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.
The workshop is being organised by the NE chapter of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Ministry of Food Processing Industries and facilitated by the state department of Industry. (UNI)