Prez for developing Meghalaya villages as self-sufficient units

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Tura, Meghalaya, Oct 23 (UNI) Asserting that for Meghalaya's future economic growth, agriculture, agro-industries, employment opportunities, environment protection, building infrastructure networks and industrial progress must be pursued in a sustainable manner, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today said villages should be developed as self-sufficient units with communities adopting an integrated approach to growth.

Speaking at a civic reception and mothers union self help group meet held together, Ms Patil said with 80 per cent Meghalaya population living in rural areas and dependant on agriculture, post harvest management and processing should be pursued to make agriculture a higher income generating activity.

Stating that Meghalaya's climate was condusive for growing different kinds of flowers and fruits, including the exotic variety and the state being home to some of the rare kinds of banana and citrus plants, 300 varieties of orchids and 700 odd varieties of medicinal plants, the President said scientific development of medicinal herbs would be an important source of revenue along with plantation of crops like cashew, fruits like orange, strawberry, pineapple and flowers such as orchids and liliums.

''Meghalaya has completed 36 years as a full-fledged state. In order to have sustainable growth, it would be important to build infrastructure in a manner that overcomes the obstacle of low-connectivity and difficult hilly terrain.'' She laid emphasis on building a strong health infrastructure in the state along with the dedicated doctors, trained nurses and technical manpowers. Equally important was the need to have functional health centres from the level of primary health centres in rural areas to speciality hospitals.

It was also necessary to evolve some mechanism which would give rural men and women training in first aid and how to treat ailments locally, she said.

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