Demand for Indian spices stable despite Covid situation: D Sathiyan, Secretary, Spices Board

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Updated: Jul 03, 2020 2:01 AM

Spices Board has established eight spice parks in major production centers by setting up common infrastructure facilities for cleaning, grading, processing, packing, value addition and storage.

Spices Board has established eight spice parks in major production centers by setting up common infrastructure facilities for cleaning, grading, processing, packing, value addition and storage.

Spices exports during 2019-20 has reached the milestone of $3 billion. India produces about 75 spices and accounts for half of the global trading in spices.In an interview with Rajesh Ravi, Spices Board secretary D Sathiyan talks about exports and value addition in the sector. Edited excerpts:

What is the outlook on the incentives and liberalisation of the agricultural sector in backdrop of the Covid- 19?

The Rs 20-lakh crore relief package is generally appreciated across sectors. The spice industry is expected to benefit from the package announced for the MSME units as well as from the package for agriculture sector. Sub-components like ‘formalisation & global outreach of micro food enterprises’, ‘farm-gate infrastructure development’ and ‘promotion of herbal cultivation’ are beneficial to the sector.

Spices Board initiatives have helped in resolving issues in export of small cardamom to Saudi Arabia. How will this impact the trade?

Diplomatic deliberations by Spices Board have paved way for arriving at a favourable resolution, wherein the Saudi authorities have aligned the import standards for small cardamom, with the globally accepted Codex Food Standards of the United Nations.Revision of standards by Saudi Arabia, based on six pesticides, as against over 120 compounds initially prescribed, has enabled a free flow of exports to Saudi Arabia. Board has included exports of cardamom to Saudi Arabia under the mandatory sampling and testing programme. Exports of small cardamom to Saudi Arabia, on resumption, has shown much promise, with over 50 tonne getting exported in less than a month and more orders in the pipeline. A surge in export along with resumption of cardamom e-auction since last week of May 2020 is expected to facilitate better price realisation by the cardamom growers.

Has the establishment of spice parks near production centers helped in achieving better returns and value addition of key spices?

Spices Board has established eight spice parks in major production centers by setting up common infrastructure facilities for cleaning, grading, processing, packing, value addition and storage. The parks are primarily intended to provide for quality improvement and value addition of spices and to help the spice farmers/ farmers groups in shortening the supply chain by facilitating direct linkage with exporters/processors. The units that got established in the parks for value addition have been functioning well. These processing units are providing local employment besides helping the stakeholders, particularly the farmers in getting a better price for their produce through direct market linkage and value addition.

How much share does value added products have in the total export basket. What are the initiatives to increase value addition?

India, with a wide array of spices and value added spice products, is the largest exporter, producer and consumer of spices in the world. India tops the world in export of chilli, cumin, turmeric, spice oils and oleoresins etc. Value added spice products contribute to over 51% of the India’s total spice exports of 11 lakh tonne valued at `19,505 crore ($2.8 bn) during 2018-19. Spices exports during 2019-20 has reached the milestone of $3 billion. The changing order in the global spices and food sector has increased the relevance of infrastructure development for value addition, quality certification, promotion of immunity boosting properties of spices etc., for which the Board proposes to support the stakeholders.

What is the outlook on export of spices and the target for the next five years?

Demand for Indian spices remains stable despite the Covid-19 situation. Leading buyers and trade associations in foreign countries have reiterated their demand for Indian spices during the online interactions and trade facilitation meetings held during the lockdown period. Importers from US, Japan, gulf countries, etc., have requested to ensure uninterrupted supply of spices to the respective countries. The new found emphasis in the global market on the immunity boosting properties of food items greatly favours spices with significant potential to boost exports. The Board has proposed an export target of $5 billion by 2025 and $10 billion by 2030.

Some of spices processors, particularly oil and oleoresin producers are setting base in other countries. Are we losing our advantage and market share?

Availability of spice varieties rich in intrinsic qualities required for value addition reportedly is the major reason for setting up units in other countries as well as for the import of spices. Collaborative efforts of Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development (DASD), ICAR-Indian Institute of Spices Research, Spices Board and industry have resulted in identification and mapping of spice varieties rich in intrinsic qualities and a project for area expansion is being taken up with the ministry of agriculture.

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