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Arunachal: Khandu seeks better trade ties with Myanmar, Bhutan

Itanagar: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday said that Arunachal Pradesh can improve its trade relations with neighboring countries using connectivity links like Pangsau Pass (with Myanmar) in the east and Lumla-Tashigang road (with Bhutan) in the west in tandem with the Centre’s focus on Neighborhood First Policy.

“Arunachal has huge domestic and international potential for trade as it shares borders with countries like Tibet (China), Myanmar and Bhutan. By 2047, we should aim to make Arunachal Pradesh as a Gateway of Trade with our neighbors,” Khandu said.

The chief minister was speaking at the inaugural session of the one-day International Buyer Seller Meet (IBSM) at the Dorjee Khandu Convention Centre here.

IBSM is being held for the second time in Arunachal Pradesh by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), an apex body of Ministry of Commerce, to promote exports of potential agricultural and processed food products from Arunachal Pradesh and provide market linkage to producers.

The first such meet in the state was held in 2019.

Lauding APEDA for organizing the ‘all important’ meet in the state, Khandu suggested focusing on developing three types of markets on a long term goal – short distance market, medium distance market and long distance market.

The ‘short distance market’, he said is the existing market within the state, which needs to be further strengthened by roping in the Indian Army and paramilitary forces, who are posted in the state in huge numbers, as potential buyers.

“While under the ‘middle distance market’ we can work on developing markets with the rest of the country including states in the North East, we need to explore and open marketing avenues with neighboring countries,” Khandu explained.

Emphasizing on the need to promote sustainable and organic agriculture in the state, Khandu informed that with only 17 persons per SqKm population density, Arunachal Pradesh has huge stretches of fertile land for cultivation.

“From the foothills to the snow-clad mountains, we have all the weather conditions suitable for agriculture and horticulture products. And as we are geographically the largest state in the North East, we have ample scope to focus and improve in this sector,” he said.

He informed the gathering that the state government’s basic focus is on building Atma Nirbhar Arunachal Pradesh by strengthening agriculture and allied sectors, enhancing the quality of output and improving livelihoods of the dependent population.

“By launching Atma Nirbhar Krishi Yojana and Atma Nirbhar Bagwani Yojana – two unique schemes wherein of the total project cost 40% is borne by the state government, 40% provided as credit linkage from banks and only 20% contributed by the farmer – we aim to make Arunachal self-sufficient in food grains and emerge as fruit bowl of the country,” he said.

Underscoring the importance of GI (Geographical Indication) tag, which has become a powerful tool to depict the uniqueness and distinct characteristic of the product, while competing in the international market, Khandu requested the departments concerned to pursue GI tagging of products in coordination with APEDA.

“Our Arunachal Oranges have received GI tag. We are the largest producers of Kiwi in the country and we have started exporting several other fruits. In order to popularize unique products from the state we should work towards identifying more such local products from agri-horti, textiles and handloom sectors which can be GI tagged,” he suggested.

The chief minister expressed hope that the exchange of views and ideas between sellers from the state and buyers from across the country and abroad would open new avenues of markets and lay foundations for more in future.

Also hoping that the state government departments and agencies would take full advantage of all APEDA schemes and programs, he requested the central agency to keep in loop the state departments of agriculture and horticulture and the Arunachal Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board (APAMB) in all its future endeavors.

Besides agriculture minister Tage Taki and state government officials, the inaugural session was also attended by APEDA chairman Dr M Angamuthu, NEDFi chairman and managing director PVSLN Murty, APEDA general manager S S Nayyar and deputy general manager Vinita Sudhanshu.

Over 20 buyers from India, USA, Australia, Ghana, Indonesia, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal took part in the IBSM where more than 50 participants from all the eight north eastern states displayed a wide range of their agricultural products.

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