ITANAGAR, Aug 16: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday virtually flagged off the first consignment of vegetables from SHGs and women groups for the Indian Army personnel stationed in the frontier state from three locations - Bolung in Lower Dibang Valley, Chug village in West Kameng and Gunanagar in Namsai district.
Touted as ‘Mission Krishi Veer’, the programme was announced in this year’s Budget in order to boost the state’s rural economy. Khandu had been advocating a system to supply locally produced vegetables and fruits to the troops of Army and paramilitary forces personnel stationed in Arunachal Pradesh directly from local farmers. Mission Krishi Veer is just that system now in place, a statement from the CMO said.
To begin with a MoU has been signed between Arunachal Pradesh Marketing Board (APMB), Arunachal State Rural Livelihoods Mission (ArSRLM), and Tawang and Jang LAMPS (Large Area Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society).
As per the agreement, APMB will play the facilitator’s role between SHGs registered under ArSRLM and LAMPS for implementation of the ambitious scheme and supply the local surplus production to the Indian Army in the state.
Congratulating the stakeholders, Khandu expressed optimism that the Mission Krishi Veer will enhance the income of local farmers and encourage them to professionally take up farming.
“The Indian Army and paramilitary forces have a huge presence in the state and demand huge quantity of fruits and vegetables for daily consumption. Till now, they have been procuring their demands from other states as there is no proper system in our state for such purchase in bulk. I have always believed that if the forces could be made customers of our local produces, it would hugely benefit our farmers,” he said.
Khandu observed that as with every new initiative, this too would face teething problems and take time to become a well-oiled system but expressed hope that with officials of departments like Agriculture, Horticulture, ArSRLM and APMB working sincerely in tandem on the field this would become a great success story in the future.
“Let’s begin with a small step. Let’s choose QA/QC products for the start as the Indian Army is quite strict with quality. Slowly as the system falls in place, we can go for supply of all other products including meat, fishes, eggs, milk, etc,” he advised.
Agriculture and Horticulture Minister Tage Taki said that the new initiative would prove to be a boon to local farmers by bringing market to their doorstep, besides strengthening the brotherhood among the soldiers and civilians.
“It would be our responsibility to keep the supply regular without fail as the demand would be huge. And also the ‘customer’ will be very strict,” he added and wished the mission a grand success.
Approximately 50,000 soldiers are stationed in the Kameng sector alone and another 50,000 in the rest of Arunachal Pradesh. APMB CEO Okit Palling informed that at the moment the demand is about 17 tons of fruits and 23 tons of vegetables per day of which only 8-10% is sourced from Arunachal Pradesh.
On the other hand, he said, there are about 1.17 lakh farmers in the state cultivating about 5.4 lakh hectares across Arunachal Pradesh producing over 330 tons of fruits and 390 tons of vegetables per day.
“The only missing link is the inadequate logistical network and cohesion among various stakeholders, which we intend to put in place,” Palling added.
The state government has placed a revolving fund of Rs 4 crore to mobilize the Mission Krishi Veer, the statement added.