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Govt sets up five plate processing units for areca nut farmers in EJH

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SHILLONG, Feb 4: In a bid to help areca nut farmers, the state government has set up five Arecanut Plate Processing Units (APPUs) in Umkiang area of East Jaintia Hills.
The five APPUs inaugurated by Sutnga-Saipung local MLA, Santa Mary Shylla, on Friday last, will be efficiently managed by five dedicated producer groups from Umkiang village and the Umkiang Integrated Village Cooperative Society (IVCS) acting as the central hub.
The inauguration of these units also marks as a commendable step towards sustainable and environmentally conscious practices.
The Meghalaya Basin Management Agency (MBMA) has allocated a total amount of Rs 37 lakh for this project.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, District Project Manager (DPM) of District Project Management Unit, East Jaintia Hills, Hunlang Blah, said that the leaves when processed into disposable plates and bowls offer an alternative to plastic.
Supported by government authorities, this initiative, he said, ensures community collaboration and innovative technology and holds great promise in fostering economic growth, while contributing to a cleaner and greener future for Umkiang and beyond. It may be mentioned that East Jaintia Hills district has a huge areca nut palm plantation, especially in areas bordering Assam and Bangladesh. The total area under areca nut plantation, as per the official date available with the Horticulture department, is approximately 259 hectares.
The official said that the implementation plan is in the spoke-hub model with processing units being the spokes run and managed by members of five producer groups and the hub being a centrally located centre which will be responsible for aggregation, packaging and of the products which will be brought from the five spokes located within the village.
“Each unit will generate an annual income of around Rs 13.60 lakh approximately in the form of revenue realised from the sale of the products. The hub will also generate an annual net profit of over 4.5 lakh,” Blah said.
He added that the entire project will benefit around 250-280 families in the area besides generate employment opportunities and improve their livelihood.
Barpeta-based Tamul Plates Marketing Pvt. Ltd. (TPMPL) is providing the necessary handholding support and capacity building training to the members of the Umkiang IVCS. The 5 spoke units can collectively produce 2000-2500 plates daily, according to Blah.
“A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed to mitigate the risk of marketing of the produce. A buyback arrangement is also been entered into by the cooperative and the TPMPL,” he said.
It may be mentioned that a week-long exposure visit was also undertaken to Barpeta, which was attended by members of the Umkiang Integrated Village Cooperative Society to get a firsthand knowledge about how to operate the machines and make the plates.
Blah said that three spoke units will be set up in a building which was initially meant to be a substation office of the MeECL. The land belonging to the village was leased to the department.
“Since it was not functional and had remained vacant for many years, and the lease agreement had expired, the village durbar approached the department and requested to hand over the said building,” he added.
Blah also particularly mentioned that District Project Management Unit staff — Kyntiew Tynkan and Lekijuh Lyngdoh — were involved in supervising the ground work since the project was conceptualised.

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