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Assam has potential for agro-based food processing industries: Tasa

FROM A CORRESPONDENT

JORHAT, Feb 16: A day-long conference on ‘Linking Prospective Food Entrepreneurs with Government Schemes and Markets’ was held at Assam Agricultural University (AAU) on Thursday.

The conference was organized by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries of India (ASSOCHAM) in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India and Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat. The aim of the conference was to provide a platform to aspiring food entrepreneurs, existing SMEs in food, agriculture professiols and students, progressive farmers, and Self-Help Groups for sharing their views and to learn about latest initiatives and opportunities available in the field of agro food industries and to inform them about the different schemes of the government for promoting food processing industries in Assam and the north-eastern region of India.

Jorhat MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa iugurated the conference. In his iugural speech, Tasa appreciated ASSOCHAM and Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India (MOFPI) for addressing the issue of linking farmers with market. He asked the government, industries and scientists to formulate polices to attract youths of Assam toward agriculture and to make agriculture a career option.

“Unemployment is very high in Assam and agriculture and food processing can play a vital role in development of the State,” he said. He argued the people of the State to make better and efficient utilization of tural resources. “The potential for agro-based food processing industries in the State of Assam is very high. Besides, major food crops like rice and maize, the State is also renowned for its horticultural crops like pineapple orange and lemon. Apart from this, the State has achieved success in the cultivation of non-traditiol crops like tea, cashew nut, oilseeds, tomato, mushroom and wheat,” Tasa said.

He also said that there was enough potential for setting up a starch-based processing unit in the State. Plantation crops like coffee, rubber, black pepper and areca nut are also becoming important products. A major breakthrough has been made in tea cultivation and tea gardens have come up in various parts of the State. The government is committed to set up infrastructure in the State for developing the food processing, he added.

Senior Director, ASSOCHAM, Dr. Om S Tyagi in his welcome address said that the food processing industry had made some 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 the State of Assam. Special emphasis has also been laid on the non-traditiol crops, such as oilseeds, ginger, turmeric groundnut, tea, coffee, medicil plants and other crops.

AAU Vice-Chancellor K M Bujar Baruah in his address said that the present government was optimizing farming system for doubling farmers’ income. Assam Agriculture University, through its different programmes, encourages entrepreneurship among farmers of the State, he said. He also informed about the different scheme of the Central and State governments for development of agriculture in Assam.  

Dr. D. Ramaiah, Director, CSIR-NEIST, discussed various fincial schemes funded by government agencies to help farmers and rural youths to develop into successful agri entrepreneurs. Process food enhances the employment opportunity. It also enhances the demand of the farm produce.