Industry dept using drones to lift Lakadong turmeric in Meghalaya

New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) The commerce and industry ministry on Saturday said it is promoting use of drones for transportation of famous Lakadong turmeric from Meghalaya to other parts of the country with an aim to resolve first mile connectivity issues of farmers from the hinterland.

Lakadong turmeric has been identified under the One District, One Product (ODOP) Initiative of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) as a product with huge potential for growth and export from West Jaintia Hills, a district of Meghalaya.

“West Jaintia Hills today witnessed the first-of-its-kind Fly-Off Event to demonstrate the use of novel and innovative drone/UAV technology for payload delivery, that could serve as a model of solving the first mile connectivity issues for Lakadong Turmeric farmers from the hinterland,” the ministry said in a statement.

Sumita Dawra, Additional Secretary, DPIIT said that this event was a first step towards showcasing the innovative solutions that can propel first mile connectivity.

The flyoff event would not only to give a fillip to the ODOP initiative but also leverage modern technology as a fundamental solution to overcome the bottleneck of transportation that acts as a barrier in realizing the optimal potential of this spice from Meghalaya, she said.

Despite India being the world’s largest turmeric producer and exporter, turmeric imports had also been increasing.

It said that in spite of the highest curcumin content and excellent potential for domestic sales and export, Lakadong turmeric faces severe market access issues due to the remoteness of the location, topography and terrain.

“Thus, buyers have to incur additional costs to transport the goods from the villages via local pick-up trucks till the major transporters’ loading point. Additional costs of transportation and delays in the same act as barriers / disincentives for the buyer in the process of procurement,” it added.

This turmeric has the highest curcumin content of 7-9 per cent(in comparison to 3 per cent or less in other varieties). Meghalaya has also applied for a Geographical Indication tag for Lakadong turmeric.

The percentage of curcumin and oleoresin content in turmeric determines its demand by the industry and the price. India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric. India exported USD 236.5 million worth of turmeric in 2018 from USD 182.53 million in 2017.

India produces 78 per cent of the world’s turmeric. In 2018-19, turmeric production was 389 thousand tonnes.