In a historic event filled with pride, cultural exchange, and economic collaboration, the Directorate of Horticulture and Meghalaya State Agricultural Marketing Board orchestrated the flagging-off ceremony of 20 metric tonnes of Khasi Mandarin destined for Dubai.
This significant occasion not only showcases Meghalaya's rich agricultural diversity but also addresses the global demand for distinctive and high-quality produce.
The Meghalaya Minister of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh, graced the event as the chief guest on Monday. The ceremony, held at the Integrated Agriculture Training Centre (IATC) in Upper Shillong, witnessed the participation of key dignitaries, including RV Lyngdoh, MLA, Mylliem Constituency, Sohtun, Director Horticulture, Ravi Kumar, Senior GM, Lulu Group International, Isawanda Laloo, IAS, Secretary Department of Agriculture, Sunita Rai, Deputy GM APEDA i/c NER, JC Lyngdoh, Director Agriculture, Persevere Rani, Chairman Jirang FPC.
This landmark occasion symbolizes the culmination of concerted efforts by the Government of Meghalaya in collaboration with esteemed partners such as APEDA, the Lulu Group, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare.
Lyngdoh, addressing the event, expressed, "At one point in time, we would only trial internationally export 1.5 MT to 2 MT of Mandarin alone; today we are talking of 20 MT. This step will instill a sense of security in our farmers, telling them that we will grow together and benefit together."
He emphasized that farmers would play a crucial role in dictating the economy and highlighted the need to return to natural farming practices as part of the Organic Mission. "We have to reclaim our confidence in the farming communities. We will do what it takes to sensitize, educate, expose, and financially assist our farmers," he added.
Isawanda Laloo, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, highlighted Meghalaya's unique agro-climatic conditions and the vast array of fruits and crops, expressing the opportunity to capture the growing organic consumer-based market worldwide. Stakeholders are optimistic about the positive impact this venture will have on the livelihoods of farmers and the overall economic development of Meghalaya.
Sunita Rai, in her address, remarked, "This is a stepping stone to success. I hope that in the days to come, from 20 MT, we can sustain commercial shipment. We should be proud of some other local fruits that we aim to popularize."
The ceremony exemplified the collaborative endeavors of Meghalaya's farmers and exporters, introducing the flavors of Khasi Mandarin to international markets. It not only opens new avenues for Meghalaya's agricultural sector but also strengthens trade ties between Meghalaya and Dubai.
Ravi Kumar, Senior GM of Lulu Group International, emphasized the significant progress made, stating, "Last year, we promoted hardly one tonne of Khasi Mandarin from Meghalaya; this year, we are going to export 20 tonnes of Khasi Mandarin. I am expecting that at least we should add one more zero next year because zero does not have value but if we put it in the right place, we can have a lot of value. Automatically, the dollars will come to Meghalaya State, and the lifestyle of the farmers will increase."
The Farmer Producer Company (FPC)/groups sourcing the Khasi Mandarin include Jirang FPC - Ri Bhoi, Tomdaksan FPO Multipurpose Co-operative Society Limited - East Garo Hills, Gangga IVCS - West Garo Hills, Nongsteng IVCS - South West Khasi Hills, Narwang MPCS - East Jaintia Hills, Nongkdait Nongtwah IVCS - East Khasi Hills, Durama MPCS - West Garo Hills, Rongmil IVCS - East Garo Hills.
The success stories of Geographical Indication tagged Meghalaya Khasi Mandarin and Kew Pineapple in the Gulf Market, coupled with the shipment of Lakadong Turmeric and Ginger to the European market, stand as a testament to the dedication and vision of Meghalaya's agricultural community.
Currently, 331 integrated value chain societies, 179 primary agricultural credit societies, 81 organic cooperatives, 28 organic farmer producer organizations, and 499 livestock-related cooperatives actively work towards the betterment of the farmers of the state.
Over the past year, with the invaluable support of APEDA, the Meghalaya government embarked on its maiden trial export to Doha and Bahrain in the UAE. In a significant stride towards sustainable market linkage, the Agriculture Marketing Board entered into an MoU with the Lulu Group on November 3, 2023, under the auspices of APEDA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare. This strategic partnership aims to foster mutual growth and promote Meghalaya's agricultural products in the GCC countries, expanding its global reach.
Following this agreement, the Agriculture Marketing Board, in collaboration with the Directorate of Horticulture, worked closely with farmers' groups to facilitate Mandarin export. The Lulu Group will receive the first 20 metric tonnes, with 2 metric tonnes already shipped for the Dubai market, marking a significant milestone with the ceremonial flag-off on Monday.