Shillong, Apr 18: After Canada showing keen interest in importing fruits from Meghalaya, the Czech Republic too has offered to set up food processing units and marketing the value-added products, besides setting up mobile airports in this landlocked mountainous state.
''We are interested in the region because the Czechs have invested all over India but drew a blank in the North East,'' Czech Ambassador Dr Hynek Kmonicek said on his maiden visit to Meghalaya.
Dr Kmonicek, accompanied by Czech Commercial Counsellor Vladimir Jenista and Third Secretary (Commercial) Jitka Znamenackova, called on Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy and discussed plans to invest in the state.
The Czech envoy to India also interacted with state Power Minister Conrad K Sangma and officials from the Power, Mining and Geology Department, North East Electric Power Corporation and the Airports Authority of India.
''I have held meetings with the Meghlaya government on our expertise in mobile airports, which can be transported in trucks and ideal for setting up in hilly terrains like Mizoram and Meghalaya,'' Dr Kmonicek said.
''We have been in the aviation sector since the beginning of the 20th century. Our skills in portable helipads and mobile airports are recognised the world over. The Republic provides integrated airport control and monitoring system and mobile airports that can be carried in trucks and set up within 20 minutes. These portable airports can take aircraft loads of 26-40 tonnes and our aviation companies are providing their services in as many as 27 countries,'' he said.
He also said he was keen to promote business for his country because the Czech Republic relied heavily on exports.
''We are here to respond to issues in terms of our own competence,'' he asserted.
On the Tourism sector, Dr Kmonicek said, ''The Czech Republic is only the size of Assam and has a population of 10.3 million. In the slack period we get about six million tourists. But sometimes we have as many as 40 million.'' He added that while India's exports totalled upto USD 124 billion annually, the tiny Czech Republic came very close with USD 121 billion.
State Finance Minister Conrad Sangma, however, informed the visiting diplomat of Meghalaya's keenness in developing small hydel projects, which reduce transmission costs and prove to be cost-effective.
''We hope that Meghalaya, which has enormous potential for food and fruit processing, would become a major exporter and we would look to the Czechs to help us in marketing our products. It should be a two-way process,'' Mr Sangma said.