By R. Subrata (TNI Siliguri) | TNI Editing Siliguri
Webdesk, TNI Siliguri 19th May, 2017: North Bengal has drawn investment commitments to the tune of Rs 1702 crore over the two-day Agri-Business Synergy organized here by the Department of Industry, Commerce and Enterprises (IC&E) in West Bengal. At the Special Session, Mr. Rajiva Sinha, Additional Chief Secretary, Industry, and Commerce & Enterprises, said the state government has set up dedicated Help Desks with the objective of helping the proposed projects get clearances within a few hours. The proposed projects for units in food processing, dairy, food & beverages, animal husbandry, rice mill, dal mill, flour mills, cold storages, food parks, fertilizer, industrial parks, etc, in the region, will generate significant employment, both direct and indirect. An industry facilitation center has been set up at Uttarkanya to provide support on matters related to clearances, finance, and technology, Mr. Sinha said Valedictory Session held later. The Chief Minister has given a clear message to all that North Bengal must be developed by maximizing the huge potential the region possesses, said Mr. Sanjeev Chopra, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Agriculture. All stakeholders must come forward and work together to translate the vision into a reality, create more jobs and open better livelihood opportunities. The two-day Synergy was organized in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture, Agri Marketing, Food Processing & Horticulture, Animal Resource Development, Food & Supplies, Fisheries, Biotechnology, North Bengal Development Department and Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) and in partnership with CII and CII-Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (FACE). Notably, Day I had secured investment intents worth Rs 1,361 crore. Mr. Pradip Mazumdar, Adviser to the CM on Agriculture and Allied Sectors, West Bengal, explained why the State Government has turned its focus on farming and allied activities. “Two-thirds of the people living in West Bengal live on farming. The fact that West Bengal is a leading food producer will surely act as a catalyst for the development of agribusiness here,” Mr. Mazumdar said. He also stressed the need for taking an income-driven approach backed by a market-driven one by reducing the cost of cultivation. North Bengal which has in its basket a variety of products including tea, pineapple, mango, oranges, strawberry, vegetables, medicinal, aromatic plants, its. Because of its geographical advantage, the region has got great export potential, too. It is necessary to create facilities for managing a strong supply chain for crops such as grains, oilseeds, plantation crops, spices, fruits, and vegetables. Cold storage facilities are also in demand,” he said, adding that there is a scope for businesses related to animal products, fisheries, fish processing and meat processing. Mr. B P Gopalika, Principal Secretary, Animal Resources Development, West Bengal, urged investors to open units of milk and milk products, meat and meat processing and poultry. “Government has many incentive schemes,” he said, adding that there is a great demand too for broiler breeding farms and meat processing, pig rearing, rabbit rearing. “The Government will provide all assistance,” he said. Ms. Nandini Chakraborty, Secretary, Food Processing and Horticulture, West Bengal, said Malda Pack House will be operational by the end of this month. She also mentioned the Biotech Hub being set up in Kalimpong which has a focus on start-ups. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Agricultural Marketing, West Bengal, said 56 more Krishak Bazaars, including 45 in North Bengal districts, are coming up across the eight districts in North Bengal. Ms. Deepap Priya P, Chief Executive Officer, Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA); said the Government is looking for a partner for the 33-acre Food Park at Ghoshpukur. Mr. P Ravichandran, Chairman, CII National Task Force on Cold Chain Development & President, Danfoss Industries Pvt Limited; pointed out that North Bengal suffers 20-22% post-harvest loss due to lack of connecting between farmers and market. “That explains why it is extremely important to have pack houses for enhancing the value of farm produces. It is also important that the region has state-of-the-art facilities for grading, sorting, packaging and branding. That will really lend value to the producers. Linkage with the right market is also a must,” he said. Ms. Meetu Kapur, Executive Director, CII Food, and Agriculture Centre for Excellence (CII-FACE), aid CII teams had traveled across the eight districts in North Bengal to study the potential and investment interests of the regions. She praised the state Government for having taken many initiatives to improve Ease of Doing Business and promote investments. Dr. Shiv Kant Shukla, Deputy General Manager, Biotech Consortium India Ltd; stressed the importance of innovation – which will lead to a strong and enduring culture of entrepreneurship in the region. Mr. Deb Mukherjee, Director, RFS Agrico Pvt Ltd, dwelt on the opportunities for investors to set up fertilizer plants in the region. Mr. Rajiv Lochan, Chairman, CII North Bengal Zonal Council & CEO, Lochan Tea Ltd, and Ms. Nita Karmakar, Regional Director, CII East and North East; were also present.
Photo: CII, North Bengal