Shillong, September 14 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Thursday said that his government has charted out a plan to promote the wine industry while a robust policy has been put in place to promote a thriving ecosystem that links tourism, agriculture, job creation and entrepreneurship through the promotion of local winemakers.
In his remarks at the launch of North East Wine Incubation Centre at Mawdiangdiang here, Sangma recalled a moment when he encountered a homemade pineapple wine with a simple, handcrafted label on a beer bottle, which stemmed the idea to devise strategy to promote professional wine making and packaging.
The wine incubation centre is first of its kind in the entire northeast region of India.
"Despite the unimpressive packaging, the wine inside was exceptional. This experience, combined with discussions and observations, led to the realisation that there is immense potential in the fruit wine industry in Meghalaya," Sangma added.
"This entire activity that we are trying to do, it links tourism, agriculture, and job creation. It has the potential to unlock a vast capacity that is lying dormant."
On a comprehensive framework to promote the industry, the Chief Minister stressed 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 at benefiting farmers, tourists, and entrepreneurs in the state.
Envisaging making Meghalaya the wine capital of the country, Sangma expressed confidence in achieving this goal with the collaboration of all stakeholders involved. He hoped that the wine incubation centre would provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to test and utilise machinery, encouraging innovation and economic growth through wine making.
Addressing concerns about licensing and accessibility for winemakers, he assured the public that the licensing fees would remain nominal. He also informed that the government is in the process to streamline the registration process to facilitate ease of access for local winemakers.
In September 2020, the Meghalaya government amended the Meghalaya Excise Rules (Assam Excise Rules 1945) to legalise 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 move has created new opportunities for wine makers, entrepreneurs, and farmers in the state. 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 2023. 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.