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Air-cargo service in Nagaland

Launching of the air-cargo service at Dimapur airport is a landmark event for Nagaland. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio flagged off the first consignment of 1300 kilograms of air cargo of fruits, vegetables produced in the state to Delhi.

Air-cargo service in Nagaland

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 March 2021 5:12 AM GMT

Launching of the air-cargo service at Dimapur airport is a landmark event for Nagaland. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio flagged off the first consignment of 1300 kilograms of air cargo of fruits, vegetables produced in the state to Delhi. Nagaland plans to dispatch two metric tonnes of organic fruits and vegetables daily which will require expansion of the cargo facilities and cold storage facilities for effective handling. Apart from benefiting the agricultural and horticultural producers as well as entrepreneurs, the cargo service at Dimapur will help diversifying India's export basket with organic produce from the fields. The cargo service has been launched by Nagaland'sHorticulture department in partnership with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), a central government sponsored scheme. Local growers and entrepreneurs will now be able to find markets including export markets for horticultural and agricultural produce including exotic fruits and flowers grown in Nagaland which are perishable and wasted. Connectivity plays an important role in marketing of agricultural and horticultural produce as huge quantity of produce is wasted between the farm gate and markets for lack of proper storage and poor road and railway infrastructures.Construction of the proposed new terminal building of Dimapur airport will help expanding the cargo facilities trigger export dream among the entrepreneurs. The annual administrative report of the Horticultural department for the year 2020-21 states that fruit crops like Passionfruit, Banana, Pineapple, and citrus have been in cultivation since agesand are considered to be the State's common fruit crops while exotic fruit crops like Kiwi and dragonfruit have gained popularity in recent times and the State has been critically acclaimed for theproduction of these exotic crops. The state has taken up cultivation of all these crops for expansion of area under horticultural crops to boost the state economy.Kiwi has high export demand, but the report points out that one of the main constraints in the cultivation of this high value fruit is the high cost involved in its cultivation. As majority of the farmers are small and marginal farmers, they cannot afford to investin erecting trellises that are required to support the vines. The MIDH guidelines need to be revisited by the central government to support these small and marginal farmers to cover the cost to grow this high value fruit and take advantage of the cargo service to augment their household income. Nagaland being located at a strategic location which is central to India's Act East and Act Pacific policy, a modern and expanded car facilities will help the state tap the export markets in the ASEAN countries. This will, however, require quality production and packaging of produces. Additionally, it will also open up export avenues of processed food from organic fruits and vegetables through value addition which have high demand. Grooming of local youth as exporters is critical to maximising economic benefits to the state and its people. The Export Preparedness Index 2020 released by the NITI Aayog show that North-eastern states are least prepared for export. Without building the critical infrastructure support in the entire value chain from the farm gate to the consumer, tapping the export markets in ASEAN will remain a pipe dream. For Nagaland, the challenge is not just to expand the cargo facility launched but to provide hand holding support to growers, entrepreneurs and ensuring smooth connectivity from farm gate to the cargo handling facilities. Finding an assured market that benefits the growers is equally important for making farming activities targeting export market remunerative in order to be sustainable. Easy access to agricultural credit, banking facilities equipped with digital solutions, storage facilities well connected with roads and internet connectivity for the farm families will be needed to create the desired eco-system. Access to internet and digital literacy will help the farmers explore the export markets in ASEAN and other countries for themselves. The NITI Aayog's findings about poor preparedness of the North-eastern states is also a commentary on the failure of the successive central government and the state governments in the region for their failure to build the required infrastructure even after three decades of 'Look East' which subsequently became 'Act East' policy despite the geographical proximity of the northeast region to the ASEAN countries. India's enhanced bilateral engagement with Bangladesh for trade and commerce has also opened the door of possibilities for the landlocked region to get access to markets world over through the sea routes. For organic and exotic fruits grown in Nagaland, air connectivity between Dimapur and Dhaka will provide quick access to the sea routes for tapping the export market in Bangladesh and other countries through the sea routes. The take off the maiden cargo flight has brought hopes of better future. Sustaining it is the bigger challenge.

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