Itanagar, May 24 (IANS) Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday asserted that the state has huge domestic and international potential for trade as it shares borders with Tibet (China), Myanmar and Bhutan.
He said in tandem with the Central government’s focus on “Neighbourhood First Policy”, the state’s trade relations can be further improved by using connectivity links like Pangsau Pass (with Myanmar) in the east and Lumla-Tashigang road (with Bhutan) in the west.
“By 2047, we should aim to make Arunachal Pradesh as a ‘Gateway of Trade’ with our neighbours,” he said in his address at the inaugural session of the one-day International Buyer Seller Meet (IBSM) at the DK Convention Centre here.
The IBSM is being held for the second time in Arunachal Pradesh by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), an apex body of Ministry of Commerce, to promote exports of potential agricultural and processed food products from Arunachal Pradesh and provide market linkage to producers. The first IBSM was held here in 2019 in Arunachal Pradesh.
Lauding APEDA for organising the ‘all important’ meet in the state, Khandu suggested focussing on developing three types of markets on a long term goal – short, medium, and long distance markets.
The ‘short distance markee’, he said, is the existing market within the state, which needs to be further strengthened by roping in the Indian Army and paramilitary forces, who are posted in the state in huge numbers, as potential buyers.
“While under the ‘middle distance market’ we can work on developing markets with rest of the country including states in the northeast, we need to explore and open marketing avenues with neighboring countries,” he said.
Emphasising on the need to promote sustainable and organic agriculture in the state, the Chief Minister informed with only 17 persons per square km population density, Arunachal Pradesh has huge stretches of fertile land for cultivation.
“From the foothills to the snow-clad mountains, we have all the weather conditions suitable for agriculture and horticulture products. And as we are geographically the largest state in the northeast, we have ample scope to focus and improve in this sector,” he said.
He said that his government’s basic focus is on building an ‘AtmaNirbhar Arunachal Pradesh’ by strengthening agriculture and allied sectors, enhancing the quality of output and improving livelihoods of the dependent population.
“By launching Atma Nirbhar Krishi Yojana and Atma Nirbhar Bagwani Yojana – two unique schemes wherein of the total project cost 40 per cent is borne by the state government, 40 per cent provided as credit linkage from banks and only 20 per cent contributed by the farmer – we aim to make Arunachal self-sufficient in food grains and emerge as fruit bowl of the country.”
Underscoring the importance of GI (Geographical Indication) tag, which has become a powerful tool to depict the uniqueness and distinct characteristic of the product, while competing in the international market, Khandu requested the departments concerned to persue GI tagging of products in coordination with APEDA.
“Our Arunachal oranges have received GI tag. We are the largest producers of Kiwi in the country and we have started exporting several other fruits. In order to popularise unique products from the state, we should work towards identifying more such local products from agri-horti, textiles and handloom sectors which can be GI tagged,” he suggested.
The Chief Minister expressed hope that the exchange of views and ideas between sellers from the state and buyers from across the country and abroad would throw open new avenues of markets and lay foundations for more in future.
Also hoping that the state government departments and agencies would take full advantage of all APEDA schemes and programs, he requested the central agency to keep in loop the state departments of agriculture and horticulture and the Arunachal Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board (APAMB) in all its future endeavours.
Besides Agriculture Minister Tage Taki and state government officials, the inaugural session was also attended by APEDA Chairman, Dr M Angamuthu, North Eastern Development Finance Corporation CMD, P.V.S.L.N. Murty, APEDA General Manager S.S. Nayyar and Deputy General Manager Vinita Sudhanshu.