Shillong, May 16: The Meghalaya Government on Wednesday approved the setting up of the Directorate of Food Processing, under the Department of Agriculture.The decision to create this directorate was endorsed by the Cabinet.
Briefing media persons after the Cabinet meeting, Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong said, “This is a valid and genuine proposal.”
Tynsong said that creation of the Directorate of Food Processing was a “good initiative”, taking into consideration the richness of horticultural products in Meghalaya even as he added that the directorate will look after processing units of all items.
“We will encourage entrepreneurs and private parties who are interested in setting up units of their own,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.
Tynsong also said that the financial implications in creating the new directorate will be “minimal”.
“We will adopt a re-deployment policy wherein officers who are experienced in this subject will be posted,” he said.
Acknowledging that setting up a separate directorate for food processing will require manpower, Tynsong said that the government has asked the Agriculture Department to work out details and that at best minimum expenditure will be incurred.
As of October, 2015, Meghalaya has only two fruit processing units which are in the Public sector under the department and 17 Fruits Product Order licensees.
During the same period the annual production of agro based processed products, such as processed fruits, in the state is 600MT, while spices and cashew account for 1000MT and 3000MT respectively.
The total area under production and the total produce of fruit crops during 2014-15 was 36.3 thousand hectares and 37.72 thousand metric tonnes respectively.
Among the fruit crops, the maximum area is under citrus (12.04 thousand ha) followed by pineapple (11.59 thousand ha) and banana (7.09 thousand ha). The total area under vegetable crops was 19.36 thousand hectares excluding tuber crops.
As far as spices are concerned, Meghalaya is one of the leading States in ginger production (area of 9.93 thousand Ha. with production of 66.68 thousand MT) and also a leading producer of quality turmeric.