Sikkim is inviting US investors and companies to explore business opportunities in the sectors of tourism, agriculture, horticulture, and livestock products in the state.
Sikkim’s Minister of Agriculture and Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Departments Lok Nath Sharma is currently on a visit to the US for discussions with industry leaders and officials. US investors and companies should look into investing in Sikkim in sectors such as tourism, horticulture, agriculture, livestock products and agro-based sectors, Sharma told PTI in an interview here.
The minister said that he has met several representatives and they have expressed their interest to explore business and investment opportunities being provided by the Sikkim government. Sharma said that Sikkim, under the leadership of Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, is focussed on boosting the economic and overall development of farmers and rural population of the state.
We assure that we will give all facilities to investors who will come to Sikkim to invest, including liaising, single window clearance in sectors such as livestock and tourism,” he said. One of the key purposes of his visit is securing the NOP (National Organic Programme) accreditation certificate from the United States Department of Agriculture that will ensure that organic products from Sikkim can be sold in foreign markets.
The Sikkim government said in a statement that accreditation for the NOP from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would immensely help the Sikkim State Organic Certification Agency (SSOCA) to secure business opportunities as a certifying body. Earlier, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, India provided accreditation to certifying bodies for NOP standards. As that authority has been withdrawn, the USDA now issues accreditation to certifying bodies directly, it said.
The minister said that Sikkim is one of the highest producers of large cardamom and ginger and turmeric. The US provides a very big market for Sikkim’s high-quality organic products and this will benefit the state’s farmers directly. Sharma is heading the delegation that comprises Sikkim Organic Farming Development Agency (SOFDA) CEO Dr S Anbalagan, SSOCA CEO Sudhir Giri and SSOCA Quality Manager Binita Chettri.
They held a series of meetings and discussed areas of cooperation in sectors such as agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry as well creating facilities and infrastructure for processing and marketing of organic commodities. The delegation will visit Washington, Florida and other cities over the next few days.
It met CEO and Chairman of digital insurance solution enterprise Wingsure Avi Basu, Senior Advisor and Board member at private equity firm Mandala Capital Barry Schiffman, Co-founder of Ayurveda inspired food startup Element Truffles Kushal Choksi, President of Indivate, (an ITC group company) Bhavani Parameswar and President and CEO of Deep Foods Deepak Amin.
Sikkim was declared India’s first fully organic state in 2016. Sharma said that when the government of Tamang came into power in 2019, it focussed on the benefit of farmers through various schemes including the Mukhya Mantri Krishi Atmanirbhar Yojana. He said in the dairy sector, his government is focusing on bringing a white revolution, on agriculture and animal husbandry and is also keen on agro-based tourism through 1,000 homestays. Under this, tourists will get an opportunity to live in rural areas and avail organic food and facilities.
Sharma stressed that people are now very conscious of their health, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a view to boost tourism and give a fillip to job creation, his government is also focussing on developing a film city in the state, which is rich in natural beauty and scenic resources. Sikkim was awarded the ‘Most Film Friendly State’ of the country at the 67th National Film Awards last year.
The award was received by the state’s Information and Public Relations Minister Lok Nath Sharma in New Delhi from Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. Sikkim was recognised for standing out as a new destination for shooting films in the country. Sharma said Sikkim has abundant natural beauty and he wants to encourage people from the entertainment industry to come and shoot in the state.
His government will provide incentives to production houses that shoot in Sikkim and provide opportunities for the local filmmakers and artists. He added that all such measures are aimed at boosting job creation and economic growth in the state.