Honey to oranges, GTA plans to brand hill produce in marketing push

orange plantation on the outskirts of Mirik
Darjeeling: The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and the state government have decided to market hill produce under a brand following interest by retail chains.
The GTA and officials of the department of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) of the state government on Saturday held a meeting with hill farmers in Darjeeling to discuss the details of the hill produce, their marketing and ways to make the products sustainable.
Binay Tamang, chairman, board of administrators, GTA, said: "The GTA along with the state government has decided to market out produce mainly, broomstick, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, round chilli, honey, mushroom, squash, orchid and other items by creating a separate Darjeeling brand."
"Many retail outlets have chains across the country and other well-known brands are interested in directly procuring our products from farmers. They are interested in selling our produce under our (Darjeeling) brand," said Tamang.

Rajeev Sinha, additional chief secretary, was also present at the meeting in Darjeeling.
"We are trying to eliminate middlemen so that our farmers get good returns. We have learnt that businessman from other areas are procuring our items like orchids and round chillies and selling it under as their produce," said Tamang who added that they were looking at targeting around 50,000 farmers in the hills.
The MSME department heard the problems of the farmers and has decided to immediately intervene by providing machines and modern tools, the sources said.
"At the Hill Business Summit, which is being held on March 13 and 14, we have categorised our plans as short term, mid-term and long-term goals. Creating our own brand is among the short-term plans as we think we can start work immediately," said Tamang.
It may be mentioned that Sikkim is going all out to brand itself as a fully organic state.
Tamang held a separate meeting with various cultural groups from across the hills and asked different communities to come up with their own centre. "In this centre we want to install facilities where items of the community like their musical instruments, dress can be produced. We want to merge this with tourism and use it as a marketing tool," said Tamang.
The state government has also given its clearance to set up a fire station at Sukhiapokhri and Algarah in Kalimpong. "The district magistrates have been asked to identify a suitable land in these two places," said Tamang.

The Telegraph

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