AIP Ignites Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Assam
November 26, 2012 | Jorhat, Assam

Though rich in horticultural produce (pineapple, jackfruit, banana), and a sizable population to relish it, a substantial amount of the produce is wasted in Assam due to various reasons. To save the wastage, these fruits could be converted into value added products, which in turn would maximize income and enhance farmers’ knowledge in processing and packaging techniques, thus help them get better price for their produce. The absence of processing/packaging-based interventions leads to heavy losses for the farmers, at times to the tune of 30-40%. Moreover, unaware of the demand of such produce in other regions, they restrict their trade within a specific geographic locale.

To make optimal use of the produce and reduce wastage, the Agricultural Innovation Partnership converged international food expert, agriculturists, university faculty, entrepreneurs and students to organize a one-day workshop on entrepreneurship development in food processing on November 26, 2012 in the Assam Agricultural University Campus, Jorhat. The workshop sensitized the entrepreneurs from the food processing sector on the opportunities it holds and how this joint venture can offer technical and managerial support towards promoting innovative products for the domestic and international markets.

Thirty-five participants, from across the state, that included experienced entrepreneurs dealing in pickles, baked products, jam, and aspiring entrepreneurs looking for guidance and technical support for starting an enterprise, attended this workshop. Mr. Ashok Jha, General Manager – Life Science Advisory Group at Sathguru Management Consultants, briefed the participants on the support AIP could offer them to invest in the food processing business. Mr. Nripen Barua, product development expert from USA in the AIP team, explained the processes involved in preparing few of the dried products popular in the US market. He gave the participants an overview of the consumer preferences in the international markets. Mr. Barua also explained how they could utilize the process technologies available within and outside India, for building a global brand based on product and process innovation. Mr Barua emphasized on tapping the opportunity to export aromatic oil in the international market, since Assam has an abundant lemongrass and citronella production. The AIP team enabled the participants to discuss at length their future plans to expand their operations or start a food processing unit in the region.

In their feedback to Dr. Mamoni Das, faculty, AAU and Project Coordinator, AIP, the participants revealed that the sessions were extremely insightful. Entrepreneurs felt that such collaborative models are the way forward towards innovative product development involving prospective enterprises to understand the market; faculty and students to address research-able issues; international experts to bring in global expertise; food safety expert to look at safety elements etc. They were excited to work on the opportunities presented to them. The AIP team proposed to provide the entrepreneurs with end-to-end support in getting their enterprises up and running.

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