Centre framing national spice policy to compete with world
Expressing concerns over adulterated spices in the market, government on Tuesday asked the producers and traders to focus more on quality, branding and packaging of the commodity to enhance its competitiveness in the world market.
Addressing a national conference on development and export of spices, Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher also asked all the stakeholders to come up “with the basic contours of a national policy on spices and spices trade” by the end of the meeting.
Emphasising on the quality, Kher said that farmers and traders should have to work more on the issue. “It is becoming an increasingly important that India exports the best commodity because that is where the real competition is coming. Traditional markets such as EU and the US are all becoming discerning on the quality. “Every other day, a new set of standards are coming. EU comes up with variety of standards. Therefore it is extremely important that those involved in the back-end of agri practices and post-harvesting are informed about the quality related demands in various markets,” he added.
He said that it would be difficult to the domestic players to brand their products without a good quality commodity. Kher also said that the industry should formulate a proper branding programme on selected spices, taking advantage of Geographical Indicators (GIs).
GIs identifies a product whose quality, reputation and other characteristics are attributable to its geographic origin. Further, he emphasised on the need to increase production of value added products as export of extracts or a phyto-chemical (extraction from spices) would bring high value to the traders. In volume terms, spices exports grew by 12 per cent to 4,21,570 tonnes during April-September period of this fiscal as against 3,76,584 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year. Speaking on the occasion, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that Indian traders are also facing competition from Indonesia in nutmeg and Sri Lanka in cinnamon.
“There is a need to increase standards of our spices. We need to increase acreage of spices,” Singh said adding suggestions of the stakeholders meeting will be considered by the government. India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices. But now it is facing competition from countries including Vietnam, China and Guatemala.
Chilli, mint products, cumin, spice oils & oleoresins, pepper, turmeric, coriander, curry powder/paste and fenugreek contribute substantially to the overall spices exports.