Na-Ri Essentials and Savourit, a house of packaged local food products inaugurated its own outlet in Umsning, Ri Bhoi District recently undeterred by the constraints or overshadowing gloom of Covid-19 pandemic.
The brands have been building a name for themselves as good products which have pushed up business from a home based one to one that now needs a proper commercial space.
This is the fruit of labor of a husband-wife couple, Raymond Lyngdoh (36) and Mebari Nongrum who have been making a name for themselves as entrepreneurs in the food processing business in the state.
It all started with the pain and disillusionment felt by Lyngdoh who had spent years training farmers to become entrepreneurs but with no results in Ri Bhoi district. He used to work for the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA). So the trainer of farmers decided to turn entrepreneur himself and had started his own unit.
His well wishers described him as an example of a person who walked the talked.
He said that as a social worker he had been involved in many initiatives to help the farmers and villagers in the district to add value to their local products through food processing. Many training sessions were organized over the years for these people to educate them in the ways to process their agricultural products. Many would attend but none could actually put the knowledge to use.
He had seen Ri Bhoi’s abundant harvest of crops and fruits go to waste over the years showing the urgent need for food processing facilities to package them and sell it to the waiting markets. He hoped his small effort would encourage others to join in on the fray to make Ri Bhoi a power house of farm-based economy.
What he does now is that he buys the local produce like pineapple, ginger, strawberries etc. dehydrates those using solar dehydrators and after proper sanitizing packages them.
He has also turned innovator by modifying the solar dehydrator from the manufacturers to suit the local conditions. He said he also wants to be able to offer the modified solar dehydrators to the local farmers, self help groups working with him so that more people begin similar activities.
Raymond intends to bring more farmers, self help groups and other entrepreneurs to work together so that they achieve a measure of economies of scale. He said that a lot of research, trial and error has gone into the development of his products.
Aware of the need to be environmentally conscious and keep a guard on the carbon foot print of their activities, he discourages the unnecessary use of machineries, which also ensures more employment generation.
What is commendable according to his partners and well-wishers is that he jumped into the business on his own savings with no assistance from any banks or government departments. He did receive a lakh of rupees in 2019 when he was among the 25 top entrepreneurs in CM’s E-Champ contest.
Now of course, seeing the potential of the man, many commercial banks are lining up to offer him loans. They are now working very closely working with Star Prime, an NGO working in Meghalaya among the youth.