North Bengal means TEA, TIMBER & TOURISM, but Agriculture in terms of food and allied has also in bloom in this area too. The geographical area of North Bengal  comprises of 8 districts in North Bengal, have diversity of different agro-climatic zone – Northern Hill Zone (Darjeeling), Terai-Teesta Alluvial Zone (Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar & Uttar Dinajpur), Vindhyan Alluvial Zone (Dakshin Dinajpur & Malda) wherein there has been  a great advantage for growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fishes, flowers, cash crops and plantation crops. Some of the important crops grown here are mango, pineapple, tomato, litchi, large cardamom, mandarin orange, aromatic rice varieties (notably tulaipanjii and kataribhog), floriculture, orchid and medicinal plants like cinchona and standing 1st position of vegetables production along with the top in pineapple production, States contribution to overseas market is unremarkable.

North Bengal has drawn investment commitments to the tune of Rs 1702 crore over the two day Agro business Synergy – Focus North Bengal on 18-19 May 2017 organized here by the Department of Industry, Commerce and Enterprises (IC&E) in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture, Agri Marketing, Food Processing & Horticulture, Animal Resource Development, Food & Supplies, Fisheries, Biotechnology, North Bengal Development Department(NBDD) and Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) will partner Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) & Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (FACE).


The attraction of this event was the Inaugural Function, which was held on 18 May 2017 at 4 pm, at Barsana Hotel & Resort, Siliguri, West Bengal 734010. The Inaugural Function was in fact a glorious by the gracious presence of three minister in charge – Shri Gautam Deb Minister for Tourism; Shri Aroop Biswas Minister for PWD, Youth Affairs, Sports; and Shri James Kujur, Minister for Tribal Development; who inaugurated the function by lighting candles. The function was  also attended and addressed by Mr Bachchu Hansda, Minister of State for Northern Development; Mr Pradip Mazumdar, Adviser to the CM on Agriculture and Allied Sectors; Prof Tapas Kumar Sarkar, Sabadhipati Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad; Mr Barun Kumar Ray, Principal Secretary, Department of North Bengal Development; Mr .Rajiva Sinha, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of IC&E, West Bengal; Mr Sanjeev Chopra, Additional Chief Secretary, Dept of  Agriculture, West Bengal, Mr.Pradip Mazumdar, Adviser to the Chief Minister of West Bengal on Agriculture and Allied Sectors; Barun Ray, Principal Secretary, Department of North Bengal Development, Mr. B. P Gopalika, Principal Secretary, Animal Resources Development; Ms Nandini Chakrabarty, Secretary, Food Processing & Horticulture; Sunil Kumar Gupta, Principal Secretary, Fishery, Mr.Vivek Kumar, Principal Secretary, Bio Technology; Ms Deepap Priya P, Chief Executive Officer, Siliguri Jalpaiguri; Mr Rajiv Lochan, Chairman, CII North Bengal Zonal Council and CEO Lochan Tea Ltd; at the inauguration; Ms Meetu Kapur, Executive Director, Food and Agriculture Centre for Excellence;.

The first speaker was the Tourism minister Shri Gautam Deb. He summerised his speech informed the audience that project of bio Technology Park is under pipeline which will soon be initiated.

Shri Aroop Biswas Minister for PWD, Youth Affairs, Sports during his speech at the inauguration of 'Agro Business Synergy – Focus North Bengal' at Siliguri said that Rs 1361 CRORE investment proposal has come up for agro based industries in eight districts of North Bengal. The proposal has reached through District Magistrate and District Industrial centers and the letter of interest has also been submitted for which the final decision will be taken on Friday.

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 development of agribusiness here,” 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.

At the Special Plenary Session, Mr. Rajiv Sinha, Additional Chief Secretary, Industry and Commerce & Enterprises, said that the state government has set up dedicated Help Desks with the objective of helping projects in getting approvals within a few hours.

The proposed projects for units in food processing, dairy, food & beverages, animal husbandry, rice mill, daal mill, flour mills, cold storages, food parks, fertilizer, industrial parks, etc, in the region will generate significant employment, both direct and indirect, he said.

An industry facilitation centre is already there at Uttarkanya to provide support on matters related to clearances, finance and technology, Mr.Rajiv Sinha said at the Valedictory Session.

The Hon’ble 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 of our Chief Minister into a reality, create more jobs and open better livelihood opportunities for the North Bengal People.

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 connection 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 produces. Linkage with the right market is also a must,” he explained.

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 added.

Nandini Chakraborty, Secretary, Food Processing and Horticulture, West Bengal, said that 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.

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 near Siliguri”.

Ms. Meetu Kapur Executive Director, (CII-FACE), said that the CII teams have traveled across the eight districts of North Bengal to study the potential and investment interest of the regions. CII Teams reached out to chambers of commerce, trade associations, and also entrepreneurs based of the eight districts She praised the State Government for having taken many initiatives to improve Ease of Doing Business and promote investments.

North Bengal shares borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. That’s reason why CII is trying to make sure the produces and products reach the markets of these countries. South East Asian countries and the Middle East are also on the radar. “We expect some 1,000-plus potential investors here in North Bengal” said Mr Rajiv Lochan, Chairman, CII North Bengal Zonal Council.

Some highlights of the Agro Business Synergy – Focus North Bengal are individual Help Desks for the eight North Bengal districts, and Financial Service Help Desks to be set up by SBI, Central Bank, NABARD, and West Bengal Financial Corporation (WBFC). These Apart, there will be Sector-specific Help Desks for Food Processing & Horticulture, Fisheries, Agriculture, Floriculture, Bio Technology, Tea, Meat and Poultry, MSME Technology Facilitation Centre.

 

Abhradeep Dutta

District Coordinator Jalpaiguri (WB)



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