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India: North East fruit processing potentialWith their proximity to South East Asian markets, and their diversity of exotic fruits and other crops, the North Eastern states could emerge as major centre of food processing industry, experts have said.
"The North East is next door to the markets in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) nations. With peace returning to the region and 10 per cent of the budget for union ministries being allocated to the North East, there is immense scope for the food processing industry in the region," Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Director General Rajeev Singh said.
Singh said fruits like pineapple, kiwi, peach, plum, mango and banana are abundantly cultivated in the North Eastern states, signalling huge potential for the food processing industry.
Speaking on the same occasion, the Director of Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship S K Saikia said that food processing in the region is currently dominated by bakeries and flour mills.
"There is a need for proper data collection and storage about not only fruits and vegetables, but also their diverse breeds and varieties, if the industry in the North East is to emerge competitive at a national and international level where issues like brand and quality control are important," he said.
The food processing sector is the fifth largest industry in India and contributes around 13 per cent of the country's exports. However, in North Eastern states there are only around 7,500 small and medium size food processing units.
"There is scope for creating local demand within the region as the North Eastern states have a total population of 3.8 crore," Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority Chairman and member of Assam legislative assembly Robin Bordoloi said.
Publication date: 3/21/2012
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