Assam and the rest of the North-east are replete with potential for transforming the region into a hub of horticulture and processed food. This segment also comes with a lot of export potential and given the North-east’s proximity with several South East Asian nations, the food processing industry can emerge as a real game changer. The State Government needs to respond to these immense prospects offered by the sector and put adequate thrust on developing horticulture and food processing. The agro-climatic conditions of the State support wide ranging varieties of fruits, vegetables and spices which in turn can boost the processed food industry. Of late some thrust has been accorded by the Government, as testified to by the exports to Middle East nations such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait. A sustained export of quality products can help Assam earn a brand name and establish long-term marketability in the global arena. The North-east also has several land border trading points with Bangladesh and Myanmar and the logistics in these areas need to be improved. The coming up of the air cargo terminal for perishable goods near LGBI airport at Borjhar is a step in the right direction as is the completion of the International Agar Trade Centre at Golaghat and Tea Park at Chaygaon. These will boost producing, processing, packaging and marketing of quality products to be exported across the globe.
The export potential of the North-east warrants the much-talked-about Act East Policy to be fine-tuned to the needs of a prospective export hub. The policy reorientation should address the critical concerns of transportation, market and storage infrastructure development in the strategic international border areas. Indeed, enhanced and hassle-free connectivity can do a world of good to trade and commerce in terms of market linkage. Improved logistics will naturally spur the entrepreneurs engaged in the fledgling horticulture sector to strive harder and make a mark in the global arena. Thanks to favourable geo-climatic conditions, the North-east enjoys an inherent advantage in the production of diverse horticultural produce including spices and herbs – quite a few of those endemic to the region – and products which enjoys global demand as well. Floriculture, too, is an area replete with potential. Many families in the region are traditionally engaged in horticultural cultivation and the need is to promote commercial farming that can earn the farmers rich dividends.