The pandemic has really brought surprises all around; some have discovered underlying hidden talents, some found happiness of being together as a family while the negative and harsh reality is that thousands lost their jobs. Frayed by such instances, many have decided to return home from different parts of the country, some even claimed that they do not wish to return to metros and other parts of the country when normalcy returns. This creates a strain towards livelihood, where people aim for sustenance and the thought of luxury is a distant dream. With such worries of unemployment, it is high time to start thinking about entrepreneurship and one such suggestion is venturing into food processing. Not only does Meghalaya have an abundance of agricultural and horticultural produce but it also presents a wide and rich variety and diversity. Why don’t the youth or unemployed or anyone think about such a venture? At present, there are many food processing units in the state and most of them are doing exceptionally well with markets outside the country. These units include fruit and vegetable processing for value-added products such as orange, peach, pear, carambola, plum, guava and indigenous fruits such as sohiong and sohshang. We also have spice processing units who dwell on meeting the demands and needs of the spice requirements of the country and the globe which include the world-famous Lakadong turmeric, ginger, pepper, cardamom, etc.
The success stories of some of our entrepreneurs who have found ready markets in European and other countries is a sign of life, hope and motivation for the other upcoming enthusiastic youth to take up food processing as the answer to the problem of a high rate of unemployment in the country, depression and a way out of bad habits and practices.
If you desire to be an entrepreneur, a question that comes to mind is financial support or assistance. You may not be in a current position of investing all on your own and that should not refrain you from achieving your target because there are schemes and policies that provide subsidies or assistance of various forms to hopefuls. For instance, schemes can be availed such as MIDH, PM FME, AIF, etc or if you wish to take up massive projects involving huge investments, the MoFPI schemes are the right platform for you.
These schemes are summarized below:
SN Scheme/ Mission Need Help? Have a look
1 PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Directorate of Food Processing https://dofpmeghalaya.org/pm-fme-scheme/
2 MIDH/HMNEH Meghalaya Small Farmers' Agri-Business Consortium (MgSFAC) http://meghalayasfac.nic.in/mgsfac/content/midh_hmneh.php
3 Agriculture Infrastructure Fund Directorate of Agriculture http://megagriculture.gov.in/PUBLIC/download_Schemes.aspx
4 Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) Commerce & Industries Department, http://www.kviconline.gov.in/pmegp.jsp
5 Meghalaya Industrial & Investment Promotion Scheme, 2016 (MIIPS) Commerce & Industries Department http://megindustry.gov.in/policy/MIIPS_2016.pdf
6 Meghalaya Startup Policy, 2018 Commerce & Industries Department http://megindustry.gov.in/policy/Start-Up_Policy_Meghalaya.pdf
7 Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) https://mofpi.nic.in/Schemes/about-pmksy-scheme
8 Mission Jackfruit Directorate of Food Processing http://www.megagriculture.gov.in/PUBLIC/dwd_docs/MissionJackfruit.pdf
9 Mission Lakadong Directorate of Horticulture http://megagriculture.gov.in/PUBLIC/dwd_docs/LakadongTurmericMission.pdf
10 Mission Mushroom Directorate of Horticulture http://megagriculture.gov.in/PUBLIC/dwd_docs/MissionMushroom.pdf
11 Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission Directorate of Fisheries http://msam.nic.in/docs/msam2_0.pdf
12 Milk Mission Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department http://megahvt.gov.in/MilkMission/MissionDocument.pdf
Apart from this, you will also have some questions of how to go about it. Please go through this checklist:
Another question that is equally important to address is processing the raw materials into varied forms of value-added products. Most entrepreneurs begin their operations only after undergoing hands-on-training programmes at reputed food organizations such as CFTRI, Mysuru or even at our very own Govt. Fruit Preservation Centre Shillong, Cleve Colony. It is in such programmes that you can develop the skill, the mindset and the understanding of the food processing world. Whom to approach? Directorate of Food Processing, Cleve Colony, Shillong.
Another suggestion would be the involvement of trained professionals such as graduates of food science, food technology, food engineering, post-harvest, etc because these professionals have a deep understanding and connection with the subject more than anyone else and luckily, we have many qualified graduates in the state and that should not be an issue.
Another point to mention is the FSSAI registration/licensing which is a must for any food business operator under Section 31(1) of FSS Act, 2006. Thus it is important to ensure that the food produced is safe, hygienic and is of the finest quality. Whom to approach? Health & Family Welfare Department
After everything has been settled, you have a working shed/unit, the resources, machineries, etc., you need to find markets for your products. No matter how good your product maybe, unless proper marketing is done, all will go in vain. To prevent such instances, it is highly recommended to associate your business with different buyers and that can be made possible only if you come forward and introduce yourself to organizations such as APEDA, MSME, Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship, Directoare of Food Processing, etc.
To conclude, I would like to furnish the snippets of what is essential in food processing business
Affiliation with APEDA/ Spices Board/ Tea Board, etc
By Mariadon Pathaw