Meghalaya can be ‘fruit wine capital’, says CM Conrad Sangma

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma on September 14 said that he envisioned the state as the “fruit wine capital” of India and expressed confidence in achieving this goal with the collaboration of all stakeholders.

Launching Northeast Wine Incubation Centre at Mawdiangdiang in Shillong, a first of its kind in the Northeast region, Sangma said the government has charted out a plan to promote fruit wine industry in Meghalaya.

“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 informed.

Noting that there was immense potential in the fruit wine industry in Meghalaya, the chief minister said: “This entire activity that we are trying to do, 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, CM Conrad Sangma dwelt 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 for benefiting farmers, tourists, and entrepreneurs in the state. The activity that we are trying to do here is going to make a huge positive difference in people’s lives,” he said.

The chief minister also voiced optimism that the wine incubation centre would 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, Sangma assured that the licensing fees would remain nominal and also informed that the government was streamlining the registration process to facilitate ease of access for local winemakers.

The Meghalaya 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 for 68 trainees and for the second batch of 25 trainees in August. 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 training courses were organized by the Meghalaya Farmers’ (Empowerment) Commission to encourage local winemakers for transition from the traditional art of winemaking to modern techniques to ensure that the quality of wine produced in the state match nationally and internationally recognized wine standards.

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