North-East finds a prime slot in India Incs agro-food plans

Dimapur , Nagaland, March 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
The north-eastern region of the country has caught the attention of some major players in the agro-food processing and procurement industry. The ongoing North-East Agri Expo- 2006, which is aimed at providing a single platform for farmers, Centre and state governments, investors and entrepreneurs to explore business possibilities, has helped attract investment commitments to the region from corporates like ITC, Tata, Pepsi Foods and Mahindra.

ITC new initiatives head M Srinivasa Rao said, Our interest in the region is to explore the potential of horticulture. We are presently looking at procurement and processing of passion fruits, mandarins and ginger, but there are no major investment plans as yet.

According to principal secretary of Sikkim Alok Rawat, floriculture sector has attracted two joint ventures from National Synergies, Chennai and Florence Flora, Bangalore. He said that Tata and Frito Lays (Pepsi Foods Ltd) were keen on contract farming of seed potato on an experimental basis. They may go in for major investments if the procurement is good. If the aforementioned ventures materialised, it would fetch the Sikkim farmers Rs 2,000-3,000 more per month, Mr Rawat said.

MD and vice chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra Anand Mahindra who visited the exhibition and met chief minister Neiphiu Rio, made enquiries about procurement of orchids and other horti-products.

Mr Mahindra pledged an investment of Rs 1 crore for setting up Mahindra Bright School to empower the people of the state by training them in the field of IT and nursing. The institute will provide placement assistance. An MoU has been signed between the Nagaland govt and Naandi, an NGO for implementing the institute project.

A few other business houses have also shown interest in the region. Abdullah Fresh Foods is looking at setting up a meat processing plant in Sikkim; ICICI Bank plans to open four more branches in the state; Maple Orgtech is keen on development of organic farming and Kirloskar Brothers on providing pumping solutions.

The bio-diversity of the region and the agricultural and horticultural produce provide all elements for a strong agri-based business in the north-east region, said CII director general N Srinivasan.