1. Agriculture World

Is Spice Farming Sustainable for Farmers?

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

Indian spices, with an export base of Rs 17,000 crore, have a share of 40% of all the global spice trade. The domestic market for spices is around Rs 1 lakh crore but the spice farmers, by & large, don’t realize the real potential that these commodities can provide.

The main challenge is to add value, educating the stakeholders to realize the potential and making it a sustainable programme. The sector is also beset with the challenges like climate change, low productivity, depleting water resources & the issue of pesticide residues.

With a view to address these challenges and find solutions, stakeholders have announced the National Sustainable Spice Programme (NSSP). The World Spice Organization (an arm of the All-India Spices Exporters Forum), Spices Board of India, IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative) & GIZ Global Project of Germany have joined hands to launch a spice programme for farmers.

Spices farmers across the globe are facing uncertain pricing environment and adverse climatic situations. There are some other issues such as excessive use of chemical fertilizers, pests and diseases,” said Philip Kuruvilla, Coordinator of NSSP.

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The NSSP targets to convert a quarter of all the spices grown in the country sustainable by 2025. “The multi-stakeholder programme will help farmers reduce the use of pesticides and contaminants. It will address issues such as high dependency on chemical fertilizers and exploitation of natural resources, which contribute to climate change and outbreak of new diseases,” he said.

By harmonizing standards and introducing good agricultural practices (GAP), the country can boost incomes and achieve sustainability in spice farming operations. He said by introducing the features of NSSP to farmers, farmer producer organizations, processors, exporters, academic institutions and other organizations.

Ramesh Bhat, a food safety expert, has related how poor standards in farming and contamination could not only impact the incomes but also cause short-term and long-term health complications. “International buyers would reject  any farm produce with contamination and pesticide residues,” he said.

“The price the farmers get should be based on the additional value that they bring in the form of quality. We need to educate the farmers and other stakeholders on the importance of quality. To achieve this, we need to take up literacy programmes,” he said.

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