Shillong hosted a National Conference on ‘Linking Food Startups and SMEs in Food Processing to Govt. Schemes and Markets’ – the important last mile. Held on Nov. 15th, 2017, this event for food start-ups was organized jointly by ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India), MOFPI (Ministry of Food Processing Industries Government of India), and the NEC (North Eastern Council) and ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research). We bring you a gist of what our team got from the event.
- To create awareness about Government (Union and States both) supported schemes/programs for the small/budding/tiny processed food entrepreneurs.
- To extend hand holding to the budding entrepreneurs to convert them to beneficiaries of the Government schemes
- To discuss overview of the processed food market with focus on opportunities for North-Eastern states
- To discuss key issues and challenges faced by the existing food manufacturers
- To build networking and fruitful collaborations with other players from the industries and government.
This conference for food start-ups was well attended – there were students, entrepreneurs and farmers among the delegates. Team Zizira could spend just a couple of hours but came back with valuable takeaways.
Signs of NE Farmers Becoming Famous?
Do you know what was the most gratifying for team Zizira that attended this conference? To see delegates from other parts of India seeking out a ginger farmer of Northeast India for a group photo! Do you know why this scene was heartening? The mission of Zizira is to make Northeast India Farmers Famous. We do it by drawing public attention to them, their hard-working nature, the challenges they face and the unique produce they grow. How do we do it? Through articles and posts on our blog. And, if someone is sought out for a photograph, can we not assume that they are getting recognized? A humble beginning?
Highlights Gathered by Team Zizira From the Conference for Food Start-ups
Head of ICAR, NEH Region’s Addressed the Audience
The address of Dr. S.V. Ngachan, the Director of the ICAR, Research Complex for NWH Region, was very good and provided lots of insights. He shared news about the agricultural potential of Manipur, and presented success stories, where entrepreneurs had come up with innovative marketing ideas.
He said something to this effect:
“Northeast is very rich in naturally grown produce which are exotic, and we have a lot to offer to mainland India and others. But, challenges are in marketability of goods, no proper infrastructural support, lack of storage, among other things”
Mr. Ngachan shared many interesting, potential-rich bits of information which would have made entrepreneurs in the audience take note:
- Some produce with untapped potential are brown rice, purple rice and sticky rice from Jaintia and Garo Hills. These varieties of rice are proven to have more minerals, and are high in anti-oxidants.
- The Kachai Lemon is a unique and endemic fruit of Kachai Village, Ukhrul District of Manipur. The Kachai pickle is very popular and sold in different parts of India.
- Sohiong, Wild apple and good quality Kiwi Fruit grow abundantly in Manipur
You wish to get more information about the other NE states, especially Manipur? Reach out to Dr. Ngachan through their website. (link to www.icarneh.ernet.in/ ) He could be the best person to contact as he has linkage to farmers and entrepreneurs of the state.
NERMAC Representative Provided Insights
Mr. P.C. Roy, the GM of NERAMAC (North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd) spoke. This is an organization that helps with marketing horticultural products within and outside the Northeastern Region. He pointed out that, as per the data available, 50% of the profit margin goes to the traders and only 20 – 35% margin goes to the farmers. This is the gap they are trying to bridge.
“He mentioned that Large Cardamom from Northeast India is coming to the fore and is now sought after”
We understand that NERAMAC is working on opening an Organic Hub at Bangalore, where value addition can be done for the agricultural, horticultural produce sourced from the Northeast region.
Mr. Roy also drew our attention to Black Pepper of Meghalaya and said that it is the better than the ones sourced from South India.
“The size and quality of our black pepper is high in terms of pungency, medicinal properties and aroma” he said.
NERAMAC is working to get GI registry for the Black Pepper of Meghalaya.
Interestingly NERAMAC has taken the initiative to get GI registration for other Northeast India produce.
Unfortunately, team Zizira had to rush to another meeting.
Looks like there are no dearth of Govt sponsored Schemes that can help food start-ups in Northeast India. How easy are they to work with? Is it possible to hear from farmers and entrepreneurs on their experiences?
If you are a food entrepreneur wanting to discuss such questions in-depth, or interested in looking for opportunities around the agricultural and horticultural potential of Northeast of India, then we invite you to join a niche social network called ‘Friends of Zizira’. If you have questions, add them here as comments.
(Note: The above post was based on an internal note shared by Ms. Ibansara Shullai, a team member of Zizira who was one of the two to attend this conference)