Food Park?

With the last day of the budget session slated to be held today, the present State government needs to clarify to the public on the Food Park, which had been approved to be set up at Dimapur by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India. To refresh public memory, it may be mentioned that Subodh Kant Minister for Food Processing Industries had announced the setting up of a Food Park during the North East Expo Meet here at Dimapur. The Minister further informed during one of the seminars that the expense of the proposed park in Nagaland had been estimated at approximately Rs. 12.40 Crore. This information is contained in the text of the Ministers’ speech during one of the seminars held at the time of the Northeast Expo meet. A news report highlighting on this piece of information was published by this newspaper the next day. It is surprising that no one, not even the local media, is aware about the fate of this proposed food park project. And so it will only be appropriate for the government to clarify and let the public know about the proposed project and why this has not been highlighted in any of the government programmes related to the Agriculture sector.

The Central government it may be mentioned has been giving special emphasis on the food processing sector. The Union Minister during the Agri Expo had in fact urged that the implementation of such food parks should be accelerated so that they would emerge as food processing hubs. There is no doubt that having a agro food processing park will be immensely beneficial for a State like Nagaland as it will create increased job opportunities in rural areas, enable the farmers to reap benefit from modern technology, create surplus for exports and stimulating demand for processed food. The central government has in fact accorded it a high priority, with several publicity been given through the local media to encourage commercialization and value addition to agricultural produce, which is extremely important in the context of the farming sector in Nagaland. 

According to information available, food parks sanctioned in the North Eastern Region has gone up to six, one each in Assam, Mizoram, Tripura and two in Manipur including the latest proposed in Nagaland. So the basic question remains on the food park announced for Nagaland and where exactly in Dimapur is it going to be located and what the state of the project is at present. These are the points that need to be answered by the concerned authorities. It is also a reminder that accountability and transparency at every level must be maintained by the State politicians and bureaucrats. One must ensure that the massive funds injected by the Centre into the State actually percolate to the grassroots. Accountability is a must so that one knows where the funds are going and more so because in the context of Nagaland, central funds form a major part of development assistance as seen in the budget figures for the State. As the public in Nagaland are slowly beginning to realize, despite huge amounts of funding from the Centre, there is still a viability problem in many projects. Even the Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha representing the State has admitted to this newspaper yesterday while pointing to failures in power projects undertaken in the State. At the end what is required is a proactive, responsive, accountable and efficient administration for the State at all levels of government.