The northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim are a veritable goldmine of organic foodgrains, herbs, spices and fruits.
Despite the uniqueness and amazing health benefits, these foodgrains and herbs remain confined to these states as farmers and growers lacked a marketing platform.
The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region's initiative to bring the growers and products closer to buyers in north India has proved to be a boon for the farmers of these states, who are now overwhelmed after the buyers thronged their stalls in New Delhi and Chandigarh.
Commonly grown in Assam, the Black Rice (Kala chavul) is an exotic variety with amazing nutritional parameters like anti-oxidant, minerals, carbohydrates and fibre but the growers lacked the market.
GETTING PRODUCTS TO PEOPLE
However, the ministry's initiative to organise events like Destination NorthEast in New Delhi and Chandigarh has not only introduced these exotic foodgrains to the people but has also created a demand for such products.
"Last year, I exhibited my farm produce like black rice, red rice, black Sesame or herbs and got orders not only from New Delhi but also from Mumbai. People want to buy the black rice which they had never seen. These exhibitions have created a demand for our farm products," says a farmer from Dalok, Goalpara district, Assam Parameshwar Ray.
The stalls from Northeast also exhibited Joha Rice (exotic basmati variety), King Chilli (one of the hottest), bird's eye (smallest chilli), Assam lemon and Malbhog Banana, which is just 2.5 inches long. Bamboo shoot, honey bee wax lip guard, bamboo furniture, spices and medicinal herbs were also a centre of attraction at the Parade Ground in Chandigarh during the 3-day long 'Destination NorthEast'.
Like Parameswar, Kaveri Kacari Rajkumari of Assam also got customers for her organic Muga Silk. Though the silk cloth is priced at Rs 2200 per metre but she was able to attract customers for some cheaper varieties of silk.
"We are getting a good response for Muga Silk, which is also known as the pride of Assam. The price of this fabric depends on the availability and price of raw silk," Rajkumari told India Today.
Besides the common visitors, the farmers from Punjab also visited the stalls and were distributed free saplings of herbs and spices. The Northeastern states also marketed their popular destinations during the event.
"This is the second such event. The farmers are getting a good response and are now able to sell their products outside their home states. The centre of attractions in Chandigarh are the organic and exotic rare varieties of foodgrains," Dr P K Mahanta, Deputy Director, Department of Horticulture, Government of Assam said.