Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has said that the state government has chart out a plan to promote fruit wine industry as it envisions making Meghalaya the fruit wine capital of the country.
Launching the North East Wine Incubation Centre at the campus of the IHM in Mawdiangdiang, a first of its kind in the region, Sangma said, “A robust policy has been put in place to promote a thriving ecosystem that links tourism, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and job creation through the promotion of local fruit winemakers.”
He said there is immense potential in the fruit wine industry in the State, the Chief Minister said, “This entire activity that we are trying to do, it links tourism, agriculture, and job creation. It has the potential to unlock a vast capacity that is lying dormant.”
On comprehensive framework to promote the industry, the Chief Minister emphasised on the importance of establishing a proper system, policy, and support structure for local fruit winemakers. “This initiative is not only aimed at boosting the wine industry but also at benefiting farmers, tourists, and entrepreneurs in the state,” he added.
He was optimistic that the wine incubation centre will provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to test and utilize machinery, encouraging innovation and economic growth through wine making.
Addressing concerns about licensing and accessibility for winemakers, he assured the public that the licensing fees would remain nominal. He also informed that the government is in the process to streamline the registration process to facilitate ease of access for local winemakers.
It may be mentioned that the government had amended the Meghalaya Excise Rules (Assam Excise Rules 1945) through a notification on September 29, 2020 to legalize the production and sale of homemade wines under license to provide a legal avenue for local winemakers to carry out winemaking as a commercial venture.
This amendment was adopted with the intent of not only creating an opportunity for wine tourism but also to provide an impetus to the horticulture sector to undertake cultivation and production of indigenous fruits on a commercial scale.
The First Batch of Wine Appreciation and Wine Making Certification Courses were held in June to July, 2023 for 68 trainees and for the second batch of 25 trainees in August, 2023. A total of 93 winemakers have been trained so far with 16 of them currently undergoing internship in the winery of Hill Zill wines, Bordi, Maharashtra.
These courses were organised by the Meghalaya Farmers’ (Empowerment) Commission to encourage local winemakers to transition from the traditional art of winemaking to modern winemaking techniques and to ensure that the quality of wine produced in the state matches nationally and internationally recognized wine standards.