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Packaging technology entrepreneurshipdevelopment_islambarbaruah

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Published in souvenir on the occasion of IndPack2012, the article highlights importance of packaging technologies in the context of entrepreneurship development in North East India.

Published in souvenir on the occasion of IndPack2012, the article highlights importance of packaging technologies in the context of entrepreneurship development in North East India.

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  • 1. Opportunities of Packaging Technology in Entrepreneurship Development for North East India Dr. Miftahul Islam Barbaruah The word ‘Technology’ means ‘to shift ‘or ‘to change’ and was used in relation of human pursuit to change nature rather than being controlled by it. The idea of man changing nature is linked to very notion of “Entrepreneurship”. For a normal entrepreneur, technology is a means to end and not an end in itself. Jim Collins, in his book ‘Good to Great’, describes technology as an accelerator. An entrepreneur puts his idea into this accelerator to achieve his or her goal. Since technology is just an accelerator, quality or feasibility of an entrepreneurial idea is important. In the context of such inter- relationship between Technology and Entrepreneurship, it is imperative to look into opportunities a technology brings for an entrepreneur. Many describes ‘Packaging’ as a separate “P” of well known “Marketing Mix” e.g. Product, Place, Price and Promotion, balance of which is essential for profitability of any enterprise. An entrepreneur today considers packaging not just for containing his product but also for numerous reasons such as:  To Protect e.g. To preserve, enhance shelf life and to prevent damage or breakage  To Promote e.g. Branding, Appeal  To Describe ( For product differentiation, consumer awareness and statutory requirements )  To ensure food safety.  To ensure consumer convenience e.g. Big packet Vs Sachet  For easy and economic transport.  For efficient retailing e.g. shelf space, matching with purchasing power etc. The need for packaging described above aptly indicates importance of location specific dimension in promoting packaging technology for entrepreneurship. The North Eastern region of India brings unique challenges in terms of environment, consumer preferences, supply chain management, capacities (both at institutional and individual level) etc. Inadequate scale and scattered production clusters makes aggregation of produce and post harvest handling / processing difficult and costly in North east India. One therefore essentially needs to evaluate a packaging option keeping this in mind. Documented learning from initiatives related to establishment of Common Packaging / branding Unit for small scale enterprise will be useful in this regard. The entrepreneurs of the region that are mostly first generation
  • 2. entrepreneurs’ needs handholding technical assistance to design, mobilize resources, evaluate technology, initiate and up -scale their projects on profitable terms. Handholding in packaging context can be assistance in networking, relationship management, consumer study and continuous firm level guidance for evaluation of technological options. The entrepreneurship development efforts within the region need to go beyond just creation of awareness on technology, setting up of tool room and support for marketing of produce through organization of exhibitions. The ongoing efforts aimed at working on a clear framework for capacity building covering needed technical and functional capabilities across individual, Institutional and environment dimension should get the needed focus. North Eastern region of India can offer numerous unique products that are not only tasty, nutritious but also healthy and organic by default. Packaging can be a means to take these products to a larger and distant market. Appropriate packaging with focus on description can also help in tapping the high paying niche markets. Supply side interventions in the last few years have lead to surplus production of many agricultural commodities. Raw material supply may not remain a constraint in the days to come. Demand side interventions are also being made to facilitate aggregation, storage and processing. The changing socio-political scenario of the region, government policies in the last few years have shown ample opportunities for growth. Enterprises in the region need to ride on accelerators like packaging technology to compete in the domestic and global market. *********** The author is a Guwahati (Assam) based development facilitator. He is currently working as Consultant of Ministry of Agriculture, GOI, Director of Vet Helpline (India) Pvt. Ltd and Chief Development Strategist of FARMER (Fellowship for Agri Resource Management and Entrepreneurship Research : www.farmer.net.in ). Contact: barbaruah73@yahoo.co.in