India, known as the land of spices, boasts of a long history of trading with the ancient civilisations of Rome and China. Today, Indian spices are the most sought-after globally, given their exquisite aroma, texture, taste and medicinal value. Traditionally, spices in India have been grown in small land holdings, with organic farming gaining prominence in recent times. India is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices; the country produces about 75 of the 109 varieties listed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and accounts for half of the global trading in spices.

Roles and responsibilities of Spice Board

  • Research, Development and Regulation of domestic marketing of Small & Large Cardamom
  • Promotion of organic production, processing and certification of spices
  • Quality certification and control
  • Export promotion of all spices with all round support
  • Promotion of exports of spices and spice products
  • Assistance for studies and research on better processing practices, fool proof quality management systems, improved grading methods and effective packaging techniques.

Spices under the Purview of the Spices Board

Cardamom (Small), Cardamom (Large) Pepper Chilli (Bird’s Eye, Capsicum, Chilli,Paprika),Ginger, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Celery, Aniseed, Ajowan, Caraway, Dill, Cinnamon, Cassia, Garlic, Curry leaf, Kokam, Mint, Mustard, Pomegranate, Saffron, Vanilla, Tejpat , Pepper Long Star Anise, Sweet flag, Greater Galanga, Horse Radish, Caper, Clove, Asafoetida, Camboge, Hyssop, Juniper berry, Bay Leaf, Lovage, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Mace, Basil, Poppy seed, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, Tamarind, etc.

Winning performances

  • The total export of spices increased 3 per cent to reach US$ 621.78 billion in April-June 2016.
  • India is the world’s largest producer and exporter of spices, producing around 3.2 million tonnes of different spices that are valued at around US $ 4 billion. The country produces 75 of the 109 varieties listed by the International Standard Organisation.
  • Indian exports of spice and spice product reached 947,790 tonnes in 2016-17, valued at Rs. 17,664.61 crore (US $ 2633.30 million), registering a growth of 9% in rupee term and 6% in dollar terms of value over the previous year. 
  • Chilli was the most demanded spice in FY 2016-17 with export of 4, 00,250 tonnes amounting Rs. 5,070.75 crores. It was followed by cumin with a total volume of 119,000 tonnes valued at Rs. 1,963.20 crores. Increased global demand of turmeric, especially in the pharmaceutical sector, drove its exports that reached 116,500 tonnes in volume and Rs. 1241 crores in value terms in 2016-17.
  • Indian spices are exported to over 150 global market, which include US, Europe, Japan, Oceania, Singapore, China, South Korea and Middle East. USA, Vietnam & China were the top three export markets for Indian spices in value terms in 2015-16. 
  • Indian spice oils and oleoresins continue to dominate the international processed food market, with exports reaching 11,635 tonnes valued at Rs. 21.42 billion in 2015-16. 
  • Major importers of Indian spices in FY 2015-16 were US, China, Vietnam, UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, UK, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.

The stars among the Indian spices


The root that gives the yellow colour to Indian gravies. The plant is an herbaceous perennial, 60-90 cm high, with a short stem and tufted leaf. It has immense medicinal benefits and is extremely good for the skin.


Often referred to as the “Queen of Spices” because of its pleasant aroma and taste. Cardamom usually adds a lingering sparkle to every kind of dish both traditional and modern. It is also used in baked goods and confectionaries.


Large Cardamom is a perennial herb with subterranean rhizomes and 50-140 aerial leafy shoots. It is used as a flavourant in dishes like meat preparations. It is an ingredient in curry powder and is also used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines. It has applications in flavouring cola, biscuits and liquors.


The dried ripe fruit of the genus Capsicum that provides red peppers, cayenne, paprika and chillies and sweet pepper (bell pepper), a mild form with large inflated fruits.

Dry chilly is extensively used as a flavouring ingredient in all kind of dishes. It is also used as an ingredient in curry powder and in seasonings. Bird chilly is used in making hot sauces as pepper sauce and Tabasco sauce.


Black Pepper is the dried mature berry of Piper nigrum, a climbing, perennial shrub mostly found in hot, moist region of Southern India. It is largely used by meat packers and in canning, pickling and baking due to its preservative value. Generally used for garnishing, it has the ability to correct the seasoning of dishes. Which is why it is an important component of universal culinary seasoning and is an essential ingredient of numerous commercial foodstuffs. It is also used as an ingredient in spice mixes.


The dried, white fruit with greyish brown colour of a small slender annual herb. The flowers are white or rose coloured in small umbels. Cumin seed have an aromatic odour and a bitter taste. It is used as a condiment, and is an ingredient in curry powders, seasonings of breads, cakes and cheese.


A perennial herb with creeping root stalk and an erect stem, 1-2 quadrangulate branched with short dense hair. Leaves are 2.5 – 5cm long, oblong-ovate. Mint is used for flavouring meat, fish, sauces, soups, stews, vinegar, tea, tobacco, cordials and a wide variety of refreshing drinks. The mint oil is used for the production of natural menthol; dementhalised oil is used for flavouring mouth washes and tooth paste.

Advantage India

  • A varying climate- from tropical to sub-tropical to temperate- that makes it possible to grow nearly all the spices. Almost all the states and union territories of India grow one or the other spice. 
  • Grown in millions of tiny holdings, the farming is virtually organic, especially in the areas of North-East India. 
  • India has its own Nation Programme of Organic Production (NPOP) which has equivalence with EU 2092/91 and NOP. 
  • The spice board has launched special industrial parks for processing and value addition of spices and spice product called spice parks. 
  • The Spice Board’s quality evaluation lab at Kochi is ISO 9001:2000, 17025, 14000 certified, NABL accredited and is well equipped to extend all the physical, chemical and microbiological analysis to the spice industry. 
  • Spices like turmeric, black pepper, ginger, mint and cardamom are getting recognised for their medicinal value by the scientific community and are increasingly demanded by the nutraceutical industry.  
  • Spice-dyed garments, developed using dyeing method that combines spices and herbs according to an indigenous process stipulated in the Ayurvedic system, are being analysed for their potential role in treating several ailments.