To give a boost to the export of horticulture products grown in North-Eastern (NE) states, the government is now up with a robust strategy to promote locally produced agricultural products to the international markets.
The NE region is geopolitically important as it shares international boundaries with China and Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh making it the potential hub for the export of agricultural produce to neighbouring countries as well as other foreign destinations.
As a result, there has been a significant increase in the export of agricultural produce from NE states like Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Meghalaya in the last few years, stated a government release.
The NE region witnessed an 85.34 per cent growth in the export of agricultural products in the last six years as it increased from USD 2.52 million in 2016-17 to USD 17.2 million in 2021-22.
The major destination of export has been Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Middle East, the UK and Europe.
To provide potential market linkages, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development and Authority (APEDA), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, organised field visits of importers to have first-hand information about the qualitative cultivation practices being followed by farmers. Importers were mostly the Middle East, far Eastern countries, and European nations and Australia, etc.
In the last three years, APEDA organised 136 capacity-building programmes on export awareness across the different parts of NER. The highest, 62 capacity-building programmes were held in NER in 2019-20, while 21 in 2020-21 and 53 such programmes were organised by APEDA in the year 2021-22. Apart from capacity-building initiatives, APEDA facilitated 22 International Buyer-Seller Meets as well as trade fairs in NER in the last three years.
APEDA also organized a conference on the Export Potential of Natural, Organic and Geographical Indications (GI) Agro Products in Guwahati on June 24 to tap the abundant export potential of organic agricultural products from Assam and neighbouring states of NER.
APEDA aims at creating a platform in Assam for the exporters to get the products directly from the producer group and the processers. The platform will link the producers and processors of Assam and exporters from other parts of the country would expand the base of the export pockets in the North-Eastern states, including Assam and increase the employment opportunities among the people of the state.
APEDA signed MoU with Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat to conduct various training programmes on pre-harvest and post-harvest management and other research activities for the promotion of export from the region.
The APEDA promoted GI products from NER like Bhut Jolokia, Assam Lemon, etc drew the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had mentioned it during his Maan Ki Baat programme. Assam Lemon is now exported regularly to London and the Middle East and as of now, more than 50 MT of Assam Lemon has been exported. Several consignments of litchi and pumpkin have also been exported by APEDA from Assam to different countries.
“Assam and the other states of North East Region have a favourable climate condition and the soil type for growing almost all agricultural and horticultural crops. As most of NER’s boundaries are shared with nations like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China, there are possibilities of enhancing exports from the region,” APEDA Chairman Dr M Angamuthu said.
During the COVID-19 period, APEDA continued to push its export plans through Virtual Buyer Seller Meet in association with the Embassy of India located in different countries with exporters and FPOs/FPCs from NER regarding the sourcing of pineapple, ginger, lemon, orange, etc. APEDA also organised Virtual Trade Fairs during the pandemic and facilitated the export to foreign countries.
APEDA has also planned to undertake several other projects like capacity building of 80 budding entrepreneurs and exporters from the region, the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) and the state government officials, organize skill development and training in food processing, value addition on horticultural produce, etc.
APEDA has also planned to facilitate capacity building to officials of the Assam Agriculture Department and selected officials would be sent in batches to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
APEDA also extend its support for branding and promotion of North East products such as KIWI Wine, processed foods, carrying out a wet sampling of Joha Rice Pulao, Black Rice kheer, etc.
As a part of capacity building, APEDA organised skill development programmes for manufacturers, exporters and entrepreneurs to utilise the local produce for value addition and export. Training programmes are being held in different states of the Northeast in association with the Central Food Technology Research Institute, Mysore (CFTRI) and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT).
APEDA also facilitated a workshop on Food Quality and Safety Management for Export of Processed Food Products from NER at Ri Bhoi in Meghalaya and Dibrugarh in Assam for boosting exports of agricultural and processed food products from NER through sustainable food value chain development.
With the APEDA’s intervention, Tripura’s Jack fruit was exported to London, and Nagaland’s King Chilli to London through a local exporter for the first time. Also, Assam’s local fruit called Leteku (Burmese Grape) was exported to Dubai and Assam’s Betel leaves have been regularly exported to London, stated a government release.
Tapping the export potential of pork and pork products, APEDA assisted the Assam Govt in setting up a modern pork processing facility at Nazira which has a slaughtering capacity of 400 animals per day. The unit is ready and set to be commissioned soon.
APEDA organised a training programme on the promotion of organic pork export from Sikkim, which is an organic state of India, in association with the State Animal Husbandry Department. APEDA has also developed guidelines for the export of fresh and processed pork with the help of NRC on pigs located at Rani, which is near Guwahati.
In the NER, Sikkim is the first state to have an organic certification agency, which was established in 2016 with the support of APEDA. (ANI)