Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma today announced Rs. 13 crore special package for development of tourism infrastructure and amenities at Nongkhnum Island in West Khasi Hills district.
Nongkhnum is known as the second largest river island in Asia after Majuli in Assam.
The chief minister visited the island with his family accompanied by district administration officials and also went to the district headquarter, Nongstoiñ to interact with the producer groups, former under Farmers’ Collectivization for Upscaling of Production and Marketing Systems (FOCUS) – a flagship initiative of the State government.
During his interaction with the farmers, Sangma said that the government has earmarked Rs. 200 crore for farmers welfare programme in the State. He said that the government is keen to understand the issues and concerns of the farmers and come up with appropriate policies to ensure maximum benefit reaches the farmers.
“FOCUS is an innovative welfare programme, whereby the Government ensures that the farmers are able to enhance their productivity as well as avail benefit of credit linkages and strengthen access to markets,” he added.
The chief minister also said that the government has accorded thrust to ensure that road connectivity in the district is improved and that the Greater Nongstoiñ Water Supply Scheme is nearing completion and will be inaugurated soon.
It may be mentioned that FOCUS is being implemented by the Meghalaya Basin Management Authority (MBMA). It identifies production clusters of marketable produce, focuses on Value Chain Analysis of the produce, forming bottom-up small collectives known as Producer Groups (PGs), identifying and training extension service providers known as Service Producers (SPs) and building large collectives in the form of Cooperative Societies and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) through bringing together well functioning PGs.
Funding support is given to all the PGs and the selected Service Providers to take up identified value chain related activities. Each of the PGs receives a sum that would be equal to number of members at Rs. 5,000 each. This would come to an amount of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1, 00,000 for each of the PGs depending upon the number of members in the PG.
In the West Khasi Hills District, PGs were formed from March 2021 in Mawshynrut Block and subsequently from July 2021 onwards in Nongstoiñ Block, putting their total to 183. The products identified for value chain development are ginger, seasonal vegetables, broom grass, sericulture and arecanut.
The empanelled NGOs for Nongstoiñ Block are NSSS and DAWN for Mawshynrut.
Chief Minister along with local MLA Macmillan Byrsat handed over cheques to PGs. A total of 36 Producer Groups were given support under the FOCUS Program amounting Rs 21, 95,000.
During his day long visit to the district, the Chief Minister also inspected the Nongstoiñ – Wahkaji and Nongstoiñ – Nongkhnum road.