Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma of Meghalaya unveiled strategy on September 14 aimed at catapulting the state into becoming the "Fruit Wine Capital of India." Speaking at the inauguration of the North East Wine Incubation Centre in Mawdiangdiang, Shillong, the Chief Minister outlined a comprehensive policy designed to foster a thriving ecosystem that intertwines tourism, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and job creation through the promotion of local fruit winemakers.
The inspiration for this innovative initiative struck Chief Minister Sangma when he encountered a homemade pineapple wine, modestly presented in a handcrafted label on a beer bottle. Despite the unassuming packaging, the quality of the wine inside left a lasting impression on him, sparking the vision to revolutionize professional wine production and packaging in the state.
"Despite the unimpressive packaging, the wine inside was exceptional. This experience, combined with discussions and observations, led to the realization that there is immense potential in the fruit wine industry in Meghalaya," the Chief Minister shared.
He emphasized that the initiative connects tourism, agriculture, and job creation, presenting the potential to unleash latent capacities lying dormant within the state. Chief Minister Sangma stated, "I am in public life to make a positive difference in even a single individual's life. That is my driving force. The activity that we are trying to do here is going to make a huge positive difference in people's lives."
The Chief Minister expressed his confidence in achieving the goal of making Meghalaya the fruit wine capital of the country through collaboration with all stakeholders. The newly inaugurated wine incubation center is expected to provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to test and utilize machinery, fostering innovation and economic growth through wine production.
Addressing concerns about licensing and accessibility for winemakers, Chief Minister Sangma assured the public that licensing fees would remain nominal. He also announced that the government is actively streamlining the registration process to facilitate ease of access for local winemakers.
The inauguration of the North East Wine Incubation Centre, the first of its kind in the entire North East, was attended by Agriculture Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh and Excise Minister Kyrmen Shylla.
In September 2020, the Government of Meghalaya amended the Meghalaya Excise Rules to legalize the production and sale of Homemade Wines under license. This amendment aimed to create opportunities for Wine Tourism and provide impetus to the horticulture sector for the commercial cultivation and production of indigenous fruits. The move has opened new avenues for winemakers, entrepreneurs, and farmers in the state.
The Meghalaya Farmers’ (Empowerment) Commission (MFEC) has been actively involved in promoting local fruit wines and meads. The commission has organized Wine Appreciation & Wine Making Certification Courses to encourage winemakers to transition to modern winemaking techniques and meet national and international wine standards.
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