By Aparmita Das
The World Food India Programme on November 3, 2023, witnessed the inauguration of Meghalaya’s pavilion, by Agriculture Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, celebrating the rich agricultural heritage of Meghalaya.
During her visit, she engaged with local entrepreneurs, and her profound words resonated with hope and inspiration.
Lyngdoh’s visit was marked by an emotional encounter with one of the entrepreneurs, who was moved to tears after speaking with her. When asked about it, Lyngdoh responded, “She became so emotional because she could not imagine that her product could be marketed internationally. She cannot imagine. Here (World Food India Programme) is an opportunity where over 1,400 international and national buyers are conglomerating. So this enthusiasm that you see in this pavilion is just one of the things that can happen to our farmers.”
She went on to highlight the challenges faced by farmers in Meghalaya. “Most of our farmers are very simple people. They have simple lives, but their children are all educated, unwilling to go back to the village to help their parents pick up the business of farming and production.” Ampareen Lyngdoh emphasised the importance of seizing the opportunities presented by events like the World Food India Programme.
Lyngdoh expressed her joy for the 31 entrepreneurs in the Meghalaya Pavilion, saying they would return home feeling proud of their products. She cited the diverse agro-based products from Meghalaya, such as the energy drink made from millets, and stressed the potential for these products to gain international popularity.
The Agriculture Minister also commended the leadership of Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma acknowledging his role in supporting the food processing industry in the state. She encouraged young people to embrace the challenge and invest in the abundant opportunities within their own backyard.
When asked about the Sohphlang Festival and the potential of traditional anthelmintics like Sohphlang on the national stage, Lyngdoh expressed her support for exploring these avenues. She mentioned her personal experience with Sohphlang, stating, “My grandmother religiously would make us have Sohphlang every winter. And winter is the time when deworming is generally done. So, as a government, we will now go back and look at all of this, the certification, provide the plant with a GI Tag if possible. Organic certification as well. We are thinking big now.”
She emphasised that the government was creating opportunities for farmers but the challenge now rested with the population, urging young people to return to their homes and embrace the opportunities at their doorstep. “If you combine this, it will turn to gold,” she said.