Startups and MSMEs key to generating more employment avenues in the state: Governor

Startups and MSMEs in Food processing sector will help generate employment opportunities in Manipur, and will put the state on fast growth trajectory said Dr. Najma Heptulla, the Governor of Manipur at an ASSOCHAM event held in Imphal today.
While inaugurating the conference on “Startups and MSMEs in Food Processing” in collaboration with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), ICAR for NEH Region, Imphal, NABARD and SIDBI, she expressed the need to promote food processing industry in the state as it immensely helps in reducing post harvest wastage, and directly adds to the income of the farmers at the bottom of the pyramid. She also added that, since Manipur is primarily dependent on agriculture, hence food processing will be its natural progression for all rounded development. To begin with, special emphasis must be given to home based cottage industries, where in women can be engaged in a big way, and then gradually move up to big set-ups. Startups and MSMEs working or planning to work in this sector, will have huge benefit of the abundant resources, and raw materials available in the state. To make food processing sector successful in Manipur, many schemes have been started by both state and central government, like Startup India and Standup India, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampda Yojana etc. She added, that since Manipur is at an early stage for development of Startup and MSME ecosystem, hence this is the right time to discuss this topic. She advocated single window clearance /processing of loans to the farmers and budding entrepreneurs to encourage them set up businesses in the state. Apart from food processing she also said that if cotton processing can also be taken by in a big way in the state. She ended by saying that dissemination of information regarding government schemes is the key, as majority population does not know about the schemes designed and implemented for them, thus taking no benefit out of it.
Y. Joykumar Singh, Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur presided over the conference and started his address by saying that topic of the conference is very relevant to our state of Manipur, as the state government is aggressively focusing on “Make in Manipur”, and thanked ASSOCHAM for such initiative. He added in his address the importance of new technology like biotechnology, new irrigation techniques, which can increase agricultural production and in turn will provide enough produce for consumption, processing and exports. He advised farming community to follow crop rotation, as same crop grown again and again on a piece of land with same fertilizers tend to degrade its fertility. Crop diversification will add to income of the farmers. He added that on ground initiatives are being taken by his government to develop Startup and MSME sector of the state, and special focus is being laid on food processing. He also said that state government is taking numerous steps to make Manipur number one in Organic farming. He even suggested solution to problem of goods transportation to the landlocked places of the state like air lifting etc. and advised the officials attending the conference to look into the feasibility of the same. He ended his address by saying that state’s secondary sector must be developed to bring employment opportunities and to contribute to the economy of the state, and invited the people to Manipur to join his government’s efforts in the same.
J. C. Ramthanga, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Horticulture and Soil Conservation, Govt. of Manipur in his address said that Manipur is gifted with suitable climate for agriculture and is heavily dependent on same too, hence it becomes very important for his department to devise and implement various state government schemes in their true spirit. He said initiatives have being take by the state department to boost organic farming under “Mission Organic” He added that export of agri-produce is also on the radar of the state government to augment income of state exchequer. He underlined the importance of food processing, since horticultural produce in particular is perishable in nature, and at the end he invited ASSOCHAM to promote food processing industry in the state to tap its full potential.
Dr. Prasanna Kumar Bal, Chairman, Manipur Rural Bank, Imphal gave banking perspective to the audience. He gave information on the growth of loans given to Startups and MSME sector in Manipur state in last 2-3 years, and the growth of formal banking channels in the state. He also highlighted the problem of repayment of loans, which is holding back banks to go full throttle in assisting MSME sector with financial help.
Dr. I. Meghachandra Singh, Joint Director, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Manipur Centre, Imphal welcomed all and stated north eastern region with agro friendly climate and agrarian roots has potential to be sunrise zone for food processing and other agro business industry. He further added that the geo-climatic situation of Manipur offers an excellent scope for growing different varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, and plantation crops, medicinal and aromatic plants of high economic value. He said that Organic Farming is booming in the state, and has lot of scope.
Shri Chetan Vij, Assistant Director, ASSOCHAM, New Delhi highlighted gave a very warm vote of thanks to all the dignitaries and delegates, and highlighted the importance of food processing in reducing post harvest wastage and increasing rural income. He highlighted schemes of Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India like Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampda Yojna etc, and encouraged young entrepreneurs to take full benefits of its schemes.
The conference was also addressed by speakers from NABARD, Manipur, SIDBI, MSME Development Institute, SBI, NEDFi, CFTRI and Regional Centre of Organic Farming, Imphal.

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