SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday said that the Government has started extraction of curcumin from turmeric, the first in the entire North-East. He said that the process of extraction is 'indigenous' and in the near future better technology will be introduced because it has global acceptability.
"The Government will get the best standard equipment and ensure that the product from Meghalaya finds its market globally," the Chief Minister said at the Lakadong Festival, which is being held for the first time at Laskein in the West Jaintia Hills district.
As part of the Lakadong Mission, Sangma handed over turmeric washer and polisher machines to four Lakadong Farming Societies identified by the Meghalaya Farmers' (Empowerment) Commission. He also inaugurated the Collective Marketing Centres at Thadmuthlong, Shangpung and Laskein Mowtyrshiah under the Lakadong Mission.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Mookaiaw MLA Nurjorki Sungoh, Commissioner & Secretary, Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare and KN Kumar, Chairman, Meghalaya Farmers Empowerment Commission, among other officials from the department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare.
Speaking to the gathering of Lakadong turmeric farmers of the district, Sangma said the Lakadong Festival is a culmination of a journey which started four years ago when concerns were being expressed about the difficulties faced by the Lakadong turmeric farmers.
"It was then that we decided that we must go in a mission mode in order to push the production as well as value addition of Lakadong turmeric," he said.
The Chief Minister also added that departments work in silos without coordination among one another and officers and departments work on a scheme-based process which is why the outcome or the output is not as desired.
"The target should be to increase the income of the farmers by increasing productivity of the farmers by providing them training and capacity building," Sangma added. He further said that in the last few years the Government has endeavoured to shift the goal of the department to a much broader goal which is the farmers' welfare by increasing production and thereby increasing income.
"Therefore, we realized that the Lakadong turmeric requires a mission mode approach and focusing on the entire value chain that starts with giving the seeds to the farmers, training them of how to take care of the product, helping them in processing, packaging and marketing. It is all these steps that matter for the farmer and the Government's job is to ensure that we see the entire spectrum and help the farmer," said Sangma.
He further said that when Meghalaya celebrates its diamond jubilee, the State should be in the list of top 10 states in the entire country in terms of its GSDP. "We have a plan and a strategy for achieving our targets and we will work collectively to ensure that we achieve our goals in ensuring that our people reap its benefits," he added.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for people in Meghalaya and the sector contributes 22 per cent of GSDP.
He also expressed happiness that the State has its own curcumin content testing unit. "There was a time when the curcumin content had to be measured in Kolkata would take ten days, but today we did it in ten minutes out here," he said. He further said that the Government would take the curcumin testing further by ensuring better technology and standards which will be acceptable globally.
The Chief Minister also said that the programme will be replicated throughout the State for other food products. "Programmes like this have potential for Agro Tourism and that is also one of the purposes of having this festival. That is why we call it the Lakadong Festival and not just a Lakadong conference, because we feel that we need to celebrate this product that we have been blessed with and should be proud of. Therefore, it's something we must celebrate and ensure that we are able to take this forward," he said.
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