Saturday, April 1, 2023

Nagaland sitting on wealth of organic products: FM



Union minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman who is on a three-day visit to Nagaland on Monday launched several projects under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and acknowledged Nagaland’s potential as an organic producer by saying the state was endowed with a wealth of organic products which should be aggregated by the people for markets within and outside India.
Addressing at the inaugural programme of the ‘Nagaland CSR and Investment Conclave 2022’ at NBCC Convention Hall, Monday evening, the finance minister referred the call of the Prime Minister to identify one product from each district and assured that the Centre along with banks, upon identification, would help in setting up primary infrastructure required.
Sitharaman suggested that millets, fruits, turmeric and ginger could be organic, while acknowledging the difficulties faced by farmers in marketing their produce considering the State’s hilly terrain and poor transport infrastructure.
She pointed out that besides marketing, the branding was a big deal and so Naga products should be branded in order to find the best way to communicate about the unique product of the state as there is a global market waiting to lap them up. Sitharaman said CSR in many parts of the country was pushed depending on board decisions and the potential area for social activity.
She said Nagaland was facing conundrum and investments were taking time to come. However, she said a lot of investors have begun to arrive and exuded confidence that conclave was the stepping stone for the state for opening more opportunities so that possible potential investments will take place.
In the list of CSR, she said maximum projects were in healthcare sector, and hoped that this would help strengthen the State’s public healthcare facilities.
She said youth of Nagaland were well educated, carried themselves well and had great strengths and a lot of government and private investment were in the pipeline aiming to strengthen infrastructure in the country, both existing and new, brown field and green field.
To create a synergy among projects like railways, airports, seaports, seaports, water ways and manufacturing hubs, she said energy of young people was required. She appealed to the youth to prepare themselves in this regard and take leadership roles.
Sitharaman appreciated Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for recognising the potential in the youth of Nagaland and coming forward to set up a skill training centre in that State, which would equip local youth with skills to work in any part of the country.
To promote interest in Science, she said NITI Aayog had come up with Atal Innovative Mission (AIM) under which science labs could be set up in every school. Though Nagaland could have set up such labs in all schools, she regretted that this had not been done yet and asked the State government to ensure that these labs were installed as soon as possible.
In tourism sector, she remarked that home stay had a huge potential in boosting the local economy. She advised that visitors should be encouraged to stay at Naga homes to familiarise them with Naga culture. She asked the State’s Tourism Department to come up with innovative ideas in this regard.
In Agri sector, she said drones were helping in improving agricultural output as these helped in better mapping, understanding of the terrain and knowledge to farmers regarding soil nutrition to help them decide what crop was best cultivated, the union minister appealed to youth to develop interest in drones.
She appreciated chief minister Neiphiu Rio for bringing many CSR projects to Nagaland and hoped that youth of the State will support him. She suggested forming a task group that would move around the country, convey the message of Nagaland to the industry and help build Nagaland as a brand and destination for investment.
She also thanked the companies that invested in CSR projects in Nagaland, stressing that Nagaland also required to develop like any other State, as India would not develop unless each and every State developed equally.
In his address, Rio, who was host of the event, thanked the Central government for giving greater focus on development in the Northeast because of which the private sector was looking at the region with a fresh perspective.
He said the mandatory requirement for CSR spending by companies had opened up huge opportunities for them to participate in grassroot development activities without losing sight of their business commitments. He however lamented that Nagaland had now been able to draw much attention of the companies and the amount spent for CSR in the State was very low.
Quoting figures available, he claimed that the total spending by companies in Nagaland had been less than 0.01% of the total CSR spent across the country, adding that there was still scope and potential for companies to increase their spending in the State.
Rio hoped that the conclave would provide a platform to companies investing in CSR to harness the various opportunities that Nagaland offered and help them identify not only the right projects, but also the right organisations to partner with for implementing projects. He clarified that the State government’s objective was not limited to getting companies spend larger amounts of CSR in Nagaland, but also encouraging them to invest.
In seeking CSR investments, he also clarified that the State government was not trying to supplement its own development initiatives. He exuded confidence that the companies would bring along the spirit of private enterprise, which would help youth of the State to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship.
Though Nagaland was among the top literate States in the country with good health indicators, he lamented that remoteness and difficult geographic terrain had hindered its progress. He said he expected the companies with their expertise, innovation and resources to help complement the State government’s efforts to meet the challenges of public service delivery, especially in education and healthcare sectors, in remotest parts of the State.
Rio urged the companies to take up projects in all regions and districts for equitable development. In addition to CSR, he remarked that companies could also explore the untapped investment potential in forest, agriculture, handicrafts, education, medical, bamboo, hospitality, tourism, music and arts sectors, adding that the State had already launched a single window system and was working to enable long-lease/land holdings in select areas to facilitate investors.
On the banking front, he hoped that the banks would provide hassle-free credit to promote budding entrepreneurs and thereby contribute to the overall development initiative.
Sharing the industry perspective, CII president designate R Dinesh expressed happiness for having been part of the conclave.
He noted that the Northeast, especially Nagaland, was resource rich and talent rich, which should help the companies pay attention to the region to enable growth and development.
Initiatives such as development of Sittwe Port in Myanmar, access to Chittagong Port in Bangladesh, improving road and rail connectivity, along with development of inland waterways, would further improve connectivity between region and the neighbouring countries and rest of India, he added.
In this backdrop, Dinesh assured that more investments and CSR initiatives in the region would be the prime focus of the industry.
Taking note of the meagre amount of CSR investment in the region, he pointed out that this happened as investment and CSR went hand in hand and remarked that holding the conclave was very important to make sure the industry and the region worked together.
He pointed out that education and health were the two main priorities to attract CSRs, but mentioned that the focus had now shifted to local development, skill development and in multiple sectors.
Dinesh said it was necessary to concentrate on materials produced locally in Nagaland and the Northeast, disclosing that CII wanted its support to be directly linked with outcomes that would benefit Nagaland and the region, adding that sustainable development would lead to employment generation.
He informed the gathering that infrastructure development was being planned for the region for Rs 1,34,000 crore. He hoped that with such an investment, CSR would take a giant leap, paving the way for development of the entire region, especially Nagaland.
In his speech, North East Council (NEC) secretary Moses Chalai claimed development had taken place in recent past, especially in infrastructure sector, and cited the development of roads, railways, airports, bridges, etc.
Under the Gross Budget Support (GBS), he disclosed that 55 Central ministers would be investing around Rs 75,000 crores in 2022 to 2023. He however admitted that although a lot had been done, still a lot were yet to be done.
Chalai called for more private investments in the region to provide a new impetus to development endeavours.
He regretted that although growth had taken place, these did not lead to any major economic transformation.
Earlier, chief secretary J Alam gave a broad overview of Nagaland’s business, economy and social environment, while Youthnet founder Hekani Jakhalu shared her experience of doing CSR in Nagaland.
Secretary in Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs Rajesh Verma and secretary in the Department of Financial Services, Government of India, Sanjay Malhotra also addressed the gathering.
Welcome address was delivered by Investment and Development Authority of Nagaland (IDAN) CEO Alemtemshi Jamir.
Concluding remarks and vote of thanks was proposed by Planning & Coordination, Land Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs minister Neiba Kronu.
The CSR conclave, first-of-its-kind is being organized by the Investment and Development Authority (IDAN).


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