India occupies an indispensable part in the global spice trade. During the current fiscal year, export of Indian spices and spice products has reached its all-time record. The unmatched quality of Indian spices has made us stand unique and a trusted name among others in the international market. Dr A Jayathilak, Chairman, Spices Board, the Commerce Ministry arm responsible for the promotion of Indian spices and its sustaining demand in overseas markets talks about the growing demand for Indian spices, developmental schemes and long-term goals. Excerpts:
1. What are the initiatives taken by the Spices Board to enhance Indian spice industry since you took charge?
Spices Board has been conferred with ‘Niryath Bandhu Award’ twice in 2012 and 2014 for impeccable export performance. Spices exports from India have surged from Rs 6840.7 crores in 2010-11 to Rs.17664.61 crore in 2016-17 to record all-time high in value and volume.
Four new Quality Evaluation Laboratories have been established at Chennai, Kandla, Tuticorin and Narela and also a new one of a kind pre-engineered building for QEL Mumbai. In the last 5 years, QELs in Mumbai, Chennai and Guntur have received NABL accreditation and QELs in Kochi, Mumbai, Chennai and Guntur have got approval as referral labs under the FSSAI certification.
The rapid alerts have been decreased to a large extent due to the implementation of compulsory quality checking procedures on exports of spices from India.
Spices Board now has pan-India presence in terms of offices and staff in almost all states of the country for effective implementation of the various schemes and for the overall development of spices, especially in the North-East.
Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) has been set up under the Codex Alimentarius Commission which has brought India to the centre stage for setting standards for spices and culinary herbs to achieve the objectives of fair practices in trade and consumer safety. So far, three sessions of CCSCH have been conducted successfully.
2. Major challenges facing by India in the global market? How are these issues being addressed?
The challenge faced by India in the global market is lack of uniformity in the quality aspects in terms of quality standards among importing countries. Indian spices are known for their quality. However, each country that imports spices have its own stringent food safety regulations to maintain quality standards of imported products. The exporters have to follow the quality standard specified by the countries to which they are exporting so as to avoid rejection of consignments. The formation of CCSCH has initiated the process of setting global standards for spices. The way has been paved for developing international food standards, guidelines and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in trade.
3. Current spice export from India?
Indian spices and spice products have surged to a record export growth worth Rs.17664.61 crore (US$ 2633.30 million) and a volume of 9,47,790 tonnes in 2016-17, registering an increase of 12 per cent in volume, nine per cent in rupee terms and six per cent in dollar terms as compared to FY 2015-16.
4. What are the strategies adopted for organic spice production in India and its promotion in the overseas market?
Clean, safe and hygiene tag is the driving motto of global food industry. The organic food products are gaining tremendous trust and demand in international market, since these are considered natural and safe for consumption. Organic spice sectors are growing in India at a huge pace, and importers are keen to purchase the organic spices and spice products from India. Spices Board, being an export promotion body, receives various enquires from importers on how to procure organic spices, owing to the quality of the product obtained from India.
As per 2015-16 statistics, approx 1881.15 MT of organic spices, valued at INR 10,244.69 lakhs have been exported. The major organic spices in demand in the global market are pepper, ginger, turmeric, vanilla and cardamom among others.
5. As a fluctuating market, how do you address the problems of growers and exporters?
Spices Board has implemented various schemes to promote farmers to produce clean and good quality spices, and exporters to set up small units for processing and value addition of spices. This has helped to enhance as well as ensure consistent export of quality spices.
6. What are the marketing initiatives for the promotion of spices and value-added spice products introduced by Spices Board?
Spices Board has implemented schemes for infrastructure development, trade promotion and co-participation of registered exporters in fairs and exhibitions with the Board along with assistance for research and development of new and value added spice products. Spices Board also offers Market Development Assistance to registered exporters.
The Board is vested with the function of export promotion council for spices, which is always in the front line to support spice exporters to promote and export their products. Schemes have been implemented to provide assistance to exporters/manufactures to upgrade the processing and storage facilities in order to assure safety and quality of spices. The Board creates a platform for interaction between the importers and exporters through World Spice Congress and organizing Buyer Seller Meets in international and domestic fairs.
7. What are your long-term aims and new plans?
The aim is to facilitate the growth of quality spice exports from India so that India continues to lead in the spices export trade by catering to the demands for clean and safe spices, which are free from pesticide residues, adulterants, filth, and microbial contamination.
We have been consistent in and would continue to promote the value-added products of spices and other nutraceutical, cosmaceutical and non-culinary uses of spices and encouraging novel uses of spices.
8. How do you visualise India’s position in the global spice market in future?
India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices in the world. The exports of spices from India have continued to show an increasing trend. The spices products from India have great demand in the market attributed to the authenticity and quality and fetch premium prices. The Government has been taking active and keen interest to facilitate trade, solve trade barriers and conduct diplomatic talks to open new trade relations with countries where the market potential is not utilized to the actual potential.