Shillong, May 28: Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said the North Eastern region has a rich history and culture attached to ‘muga silk’ and the identity of the region as a silk producing province goes back centuries.
Conrad was speaking at the launch of the ‘Meghalaya Muga Mission’ at a function held at the State Convention Centre in Shillong on Tuesday.
He said that with the launch of the Muga Missiojn, muga silk production in the State would receive the much needed leverage and direction with a funding of close to 130 crores from multiple sources over a period of five years.
“Right until now our farmers mostly have been producing the raw silk, which is mostly sold to our neighbouring State of Assam. Increasing the production and ensuring value addition to the available resources in the form of finished products will greatly improve the economic status of muga farmers and also fuel growth in the State’s GDP”, he said.
According to the Chief Minister, market tie up with industry partners, fashion houses and designers would give a major fillip to muga farmers with the increase in demand of muga silk from Meghalaya.
Acknowledging the importance of agriculture and the allied sector as a major source for economic growth, Conrad said that the government is keen to implement the right policies and programmes for the progress of the primary sector.
“All the mission mode programs such as the Jackfruit Mission, Milk Mission and other initiatives have allowed us to focus on specific targets to be achieved in a time bound manner. Most of these initiatives have already started to bear great results”, he added.
Speaking at length about the importance of branding the Chief Minister underlined the need to embark on a “massive branding exercise” to market the muga silk and also other locally produced goods to make into a unique proposition to buyers and come out on top in the face of stiff competition.
He also informed the gathering that the government would soon roll out ‘MeghaMart’, an online platform to facilitate the sale and purchase of products sourced from local entrepreneurs.
The government has already prepared a database comprising 2000 enterprises and more than 10,000 products that will be available through the website.
“It will be the ‘Amazon for Made in Meghalaya products”, the Chief Minister added.
Stating that the Government will soon come out with the procurement policy making it mandatory for government departments to source certain amount of their supplies from local entrepreneurs, Conrad said that the online platform would provide easy access to locally produced goods for buyers.
Earlier during his address Additional Chief Secretary K.N. Kumar said that of the 108 metric tons of muga silk produced in the country Meghalaya with annual production of 30 metric tons, accounted for a fifth of the total national production.
He informed that most of the raw silk is sold to neighbouring State of Assam which has over the years positioned itself as the geographically indicated region for muga silk leading to a huge price mark up for the same in Assam.
“The value realisation is very small in our State with most of the muga farmers living on subsistence while huge profits are pocketed by the middlemen and the retail marketers. It is a loss of opportunity for Meghalaya and its farmers,” Kumar added.
He said that the government has charted out a roadmap for implementation of the Mission and an investment of around 130 crores will be made in the next five years for area expansion, development of critical infrastructure, building of human capital and significant inputs for developing final finished products including its sale and marketing.
He said that the target output in the next four to five years would be 43 metric tons a significant increase of 13 metric tons with monetary production value of the raw resources valued at around 50 to 70 crores. Value addition to the raw silk would increase the production value to around 200 to 300 crores, he further added.
The Additional Chief Secretary also informed the gathering that a Muga Farmers’ Training Centre would be set up at Resubelpara, North Garo Hills to facilitate scientific training and equip the farmers with the necessary skill sets.
The Meghalaya Muga Mission Document was also released by the Chief Minister during the function.