Young entrepreneurs who have started new ventures in Sikkim to harness the potential of processed organic products in the state, shared their experiences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister interacted with 29-year old entrepreneur Vivek Cintury, founder of Nature Gift and IIM graduate Anurag Aggarwal, co-founder of Parvata Foods, among others after inaugurating an exhibition on organic products in Sikkim.
The event comes days after the launch of Startup India programme on January 16. “Modiji asked about my products. I shared how I started this new venture taking loan from the Prime Minister Employment Guarantee Fund,” Cintury, who has showcased his products in the exhibition, told PTI.
Cintury’s startup firm Nature Gift was set up in 2013 and now has a processing capacity of 200 tonnes for ginger, turmeric, buckwheat and millets. He sells processed organic products not only in Sikkim but also supplies to companies like Lucknow-based Organic India, Jaipur-based Vision Organic, among others.
Cintury said he has got his products certified from export promotion body APEDA and the Spices Board and eventually wants to focus on exports. Similarly, Parvata Foods was set up in 2013 by two young entrepreneurs soon after passing out from the IIM, Ahmedabad.
“We started with our own funds. We saw farmers were selling their produce in Siliguri. So, we decided to tap the potential,” company’s co-founder Aggarwal said. The company has partnered with New Delhi’s Mother Dairy for supply of organic turmeric and ginger through 372 Safal retail outlets, he said.
Industry body CII-Ahmedabad and Village Capital USA and other five investors have invested Rs 65 lakh in the company for branding and creating market linkages, he added. Another startup firm Pure Sikkim also showcased its organic products at the exhibition.
Modi, who spent an hour at the exhibition visiting stalls spread over five acres, also interacted with farmers and scientists. He walked through stalls displaying organic vegetables, organic crop production technologies, medicinal and aromatic plants, besides spices and fruits along with value added products from indigenous crops.
Modi also saw new farming practices like vertical farming, low cost plastic tunnels and shelters for round the year vegetable production and low cost housing for livestock. The Sikkim government showcased the state birds and animals made of organic cereals, fruits and vegetables.
The state also displayed its creativity and showcased huge statue of Lord Ganesha using local organic oranges, sleeping Buddha made of bananas, Kanchenjunga mountain range made of organic ginger. Modi is in the North-East on a two-day visit.
Sikkim has become the first state in the country to adopt 100 per cent organic farming. It grows organic products in 76,392 hectare. The Prime Minister yesterday gave a certificate to Sikkim government commending its efforts for converting itself into a fully organic farming state in a span of 12 years.
About 64,726 farmers were also certified for their farm land. A total of 14 NGOs as service providers and six accreditation agencies are involved the process. The state grows local mandarin, kiwi, turmeric, buckwheat, rajma, vegetables, flowers among others. It has identified six products — large cardamom, ginger, turmeric, buckwheat, tea and Cymbidium — for sale outside Sikkim.
However, the state government is facing the challenge of limited supply of certified seeds and planting material, huge documentation formalities for organic certification, higher cost for collection and transportation of produce in hills. The state also lacks post harvest and value addition infrastructure, quality control facility for organic manure and testing facility to check biofertiliser and pesticides residue