Meghalaya, geologically mineral rich and major logistic centre for trade with South East Asian Market, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar is attracting investment in food processing, horticulture, tourism and mineral based industries. In 2020-21, the state attracted new investment projects worth Rs 5636.5 million and the projects completed during the period were worth Rs 1058.0 million.

This was revealed by the joint study conducted by the MSME Export Promotion Council and technology firm BillMart FinTech on “Unlimited growth opportunities for MSMEs & Start-Ups in Meghalaya”.

The study presented to the state government was released here by Mr. A L Hek, MLA and former minister and the Chairman of the MSME EPC – Meghalaya, Dr. D S Rawat, chairman of the council, BillMart Co-Founder & CEO, Mr. Jigish Sonagara, and BillMart Co-founder & COO, Mr. Sundeep Doshi. Mr. Hek has recently taken over the chairmanship of MSME EPC, Meghalaya to guide and help the institution for enhancing entrepreneurial skill, provides handholding and provides training on how to use technology for the growth of businesses.

The Council has opened the Meghlaya chapter under Mr Hek to focus on food processing, ayush, agro-based, horticulture, mineral based, organic farming, tourism, and real estate development.

The MSME EPC and the BillMart will provide training for enhancement of entrepreneurial skill to the existing and potential entrepreneurs, women, start-ups and SC-ST categories. They propose to provide handlolding to at least 50 potential entrepreneurs to start their own enterprises in a year. BillMart, has already launched a MSME GAIN (Growth and Intelligence Network) and shall train enterprises on application of technology for growth of businesses and up-date knowledge on various laws. MoUs will be signed with the local associations, lending banks, etc to facilitate these services to their clients.

Mr Hek said, the food processing industry currently accounts for only 10% of the total agriculture produce of the state.  He stressed the need to expand the sector and added that the existing units are doing exceptionally well with markets outside the country. Food Processing has huge untapped potential in the State as the state produces substantial quantities of oranges, peaches, pineapples, pears, guavas, plums and banana. It also grows plenty of potatoes, tapioca, bay leaves, ginger, maize, and jackfruit. In addition, plantation crops, coffee, rubber, black pepper, and areca nut are also becoming important products. Therefore, the Govt. should setup as a joint venture starch based processing unit.

There are tremendous opportunities to take initiatives towards providing sustainable livelihood for the purposes of household use of the villagers, making handicrafts, selling bamboo poles in the villages and the city markets, selling bamboo as raw – material to the paper mills.

Mr. Sonagara said, one of the biggest pains of MSMEs is to gain access to affordable & timely credit and, therefore, it has introduced a digital ecosystem to handhold the MSMEs and provide seamless experience in raising short-term working capital, unlocking trade receivables, freeing cash flows etc.

The MSME EPC chairman said, a special division on “Northeastern economic development” has been established in its secretariat and will be primarily focusing on to attract fresh private sector investment under the guidance of its Meghalaya chairman Mr Hek.

The study observed that large number of projects are either outstanding or under implementation and has recommended constitution of a high powered committee under the chief minister to expedite the completion and to avoid any cost escalation. In 2019-20 while the investment projects outstanding were worth Rs 327209.9 million and under implementation Rs 193899.7 million worth, in 2020-21, the projects worth Rs 324995.0 million were outstanding and Rs.191976.5 million worth under implementation.

During 2019-20, Mr Rawat said, investment projects announced by private sector were worth Rs5839.8 million and projects completed were of Rs7543.1 million and in 2020-21, Rs6511.1 million worth of projects were announced.

The study found that Meghalaya has achieved a significant success in the cultivation of non-traditional crops like tea, cashew nut, oilseeds, tomato, mushroom, wheat , turmeric etc. in 2019-20, the total food grains production registered  (000 Tons) was 360.8 food grains, 348.8 cereals and 12.0 pulses.