Speaking at the National Conference on Development and Export of Spices, Union Agricultural Minister, Radha Mohan Singh said that if India is to gain a competitive edge in the spice trade then they will have to produce quality spices. These need to be branded and packaged accordingly to meet the requirements of the discerning US and EU market.
He said that farmers should produce quality spices as the importance of spices in nutraceuticals and the health benefits they provide are increasing the demand for spices. With the pioneering efforts of ICAR-Indian Institute of Spices Research Calicut and National Research Centre on Seed Spices Ajmer the farmers can easily do that as these research centres have developed high yielding spice varieties and developed improved production methods. Besides, the climatic conditions in the country provide the right environment for growing spices.
The farmers will no longer have to face the problems of low productivity and fluctuating prices that they had to face earlier if they diversify and use these new methods and seeds. Besides biotic and abiotic stress resulting in low farm income can also be reduced. Indian spices like chillies, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, saffron and cumin are commercially more important and farmers should be encouraged to grow these so that they and India can both benefit.
The Spice Board under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry serves as an important link between Indian exporters and importers from abroad. They also build the Indian brand abroad and would now be looking to realise the Indian dream of Brand India in the spice trade. It is for this reason that the Spice Boards is also encouraging the production of hygienically grown and quality spice produce.
India was once one of the largest producers, consumer and exporter of spices in the world. Today also spices play an important role in the Indian economy as they account for 5% of GDP in agriculture. The earnings from spices have now increased to about US$2267 million as compared to about US$592 million in 2005-06.
The Commerce Secretary, who was present on the occasion, said that India can increase its share of spice trade if they improve quality as that is what will give impetus to trade. The European Union is all the time coming up with new standards so it is extremely important that that those involved in agricultural practices and post-harvesting of spices are well informed about the quality demands and requirement of the various world markets.