In the era of heightened collaboration between neighboring nations, the Indian state of Meghalaya, aptly named ‘the abode of clouds’, presents a promising opportunity for synergy with Bangladesh. Nestled between Assam and Bangladesh, Meghalaya boasts breathtaking landscapes and a refreshing climate. A strategic collaboration between the governments of Bangladesh and India could unlock immense benefits for Meghalaya. This collaboration could involve using Bangladesh as an export gateway for Meghalaya’s agricultural and horticultural products to foreign markets. Additionally, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs could play a pivotal role in establishing industrial projects, particularly in the readymade garments sector, to significantly boost Meghalaya’s economic earnings.
Meghalaya, predominantly an agricultural state, relies on agriculture for 81 percent of its population’s livelihood. The challenging terrain limits the expansion of wet cultivation areas, but the state holds vast potential for horticulture. The diverse agroclimatic conditions within Meghalaya support the cultivation of both temperate and tropical fruits and vegetables.
Apart from staple crops like rice and maize, Meghalaya is renowned for horticulture products such as oranges, lemons, pineapples, guavas, lychees, bananas, jackfruits, and temperate fruits like plums, pears, and peaches. The state also produces cash crops like potatoes, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, arecanut, tezpata, betelvine, short-staple cotton, jute, mesta, mustard, and rapeseed. Moreover, Meghalaya has untapped reserves of coal, limestone, sillimanite, fire-clay, and other minerals, offering significant potential for development.
The state has also achieved notable success in cultivating non-traditional crops like tea, cashew nuts, oilseeds, tomatoes, mushrooms, and wheat. The non-agricultural sector sees notable contributions from industries such as cement production, with the Mawmluh Cherra Cement Company being a key player.
The Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) is actively supporting private entrepreneurs in small and tiny sectors, providing financing and equity participation. The state is witnessing growth in small-scale industries such as service industry units, bakeries, furniture making, iron and steel fabrication, and type retreading.
Geographically, Meghalaya, one of the “seven sisters” of northeastern India, covers an area of 22,429 km². Its capital, Shillong, known as the ‘Scotland of the East’, is a popular travel destination for its picturesque landscapes and colonial charm.
In a meeting last year with the Bangladesh High Commissioner to India, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma explored opportunities to expand trade and commerce between Bangladesh and Meghalaya. The Meghalaya chief minister highlighted the potential for direct imports of garments, plastic products, electronics, processed food, and frozen food from Bangladesh. Emphasizing mutual partnership and product diversification, he sought Bangladesh’s cooperation in developing Meghalaya’s tourism industry.
Referring to Bangladesh’s historical relationship with Meghalaya, the Bangladesh envoy emphasized on enhancing connectivity with the state and increasing people-to-people interactions.
The Bangladesh envoy, acknowledging the historical relationship between Bangladesh and Meghalaya, stressed enhancing connectivity and people-to-people interactions. He expressed Bangladesh’s government’s willingness to boost trade ties with the northeastern part of India, inviting investors from Meghalaya to explore opportunities in various sectors.
In my perspective, while welcoming investments from Meghalaya in Bangladesh, there should also be initiatives to encourage Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, particularly in the readymade garment sector, to invest in Meghalaya. Establishing RMG factories in the state could create significant job opportunities. Simultaneously, Meghalaya can leverage Bangladesh’s land and sea routes to export its agricultural, horticultural, and natural resources to global destinations. Joint ventures between Bangladesh and Meghalaya can further promote the tourism sector in the state, fostering a mutually beneficial collaboration.