NECTAR Expands Northeastern Products to Japan and Netherlands: From Modi's Yoga Mat to Nagaland Honey

The North East Center for Technology Application (NECTAR), an initiative by the government, spearheads the growth of high-quality organic products such as saffron, buckwheat, and honey from the region, providing a significant boost to local enterprises.

Jan 12, 2024 - 15:26
NECTAR Expands Northeastern Products to Japan and Netherlands: From Modi's Yoga Mat to Nagaland Honey

Arun Sarma unveils two minuscule jars of saffron retrieved from his office drawer, showcasing the outcome of the government's recent initiative in the Northeast. Traditionally exclusive to Kashmir, Sarma, as the Director General of the North East Center for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), envisions a shift in this paradigm. Soon, saffron cultivated in the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Sikkim will make its debut in the market. However, Sarma and his team at NECTAR face a quandary in designing branding stickers for the petite glass jars containing saffron barely a centimeter tall.

Nestled in Vishwakarma Bhavan in Delhi, NECTAR's office resembles a treasure trove of distinctive products from the Northeast, all crafted with sustainable practices. From exquisite bamboo furniture to a vest fashioned from premium banana fiber, and packages of export-grade turmeric and cinnamon, it defies the conventional appearance of government offices. These products are tangible results of an ambitious initiative to foster entrepreneurship in the northeastern states, bringing premium organic goods from remote regions of India to global markets.

Established in 2012, NECTAR emerged from the merger of the National Mission for Bamboo Application (NMBA) and the Mission for Geospatial Applications (MGA) as an autonomous society under the Department of Science & Technology. In just over a decade, the center has not only assisted over 150 entrepreneurs in finding their footing but has also supported farmers in enhancing their livelihoods.

The nation took notice on International Yoga Day in 2020 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several ministers showcased their yoga poses on biodegradable yoga mats made from dried water hyacinths, once an environmental hazard in Assam's Deepor Beel lake.

NECTAR's journey is marked by numerous tales of empowering local communities to pursue environmentally friendly and sustainable businesses. However, it's also a narrative of overcoming challenges such as strife, distrust, and conflict among tribal groups, language barriers, and fostering trust to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

The key to their success lies in collaboration with local changemakers who mobilize their communities to participate in the government's mission.

"With minimal interventions from our side, farmers can now sell their high-quality products to countries like the Netherlands and Japan, rather than disposing of them at throwaway prices," Sarma stated.

His dedication is focused on revitalizing neglected farmlands and globalizing agriculture in the Northeast.

NECTAR has transformed from being merely a funding agency for entrepreneurs to a more expansive role—a catalyst for change.

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