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Anu P. Mathai

IES, Chief Executive Officer, IBEF

Anu P. Mathai

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The organic spice route

Anu P. Mathai, IES, Chief Executive Officer, IBEF

Jan 06, 2017 17:54

Organic farming has been witnessing rising popularity across markets, in tandem with the growing concerns related to intensive farming and an overdependence on agrochemical inputs. India is making strong gains in this area across a wide range of crops, with total certified organic production reaching 1.35 million MT in 2015-16 (source: APEDA).

One area where India is making steady progress is organic spices. This is especially crucial to the organic future of the global spices industry, considering that India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices in the world. India’s exports of organic spices reached around 1,881.15 MT (2015-16), valued at Rs 102.45 crore, with USA, Germany and Netherlands being the major markets (source: Spices Board India).

Northeast India is an inspiring success story in this regard, where the farming system is organic by default and the region has maintained its ecological biodiversity. The land of seven sisters grows a variety of spices like large cardamom, ginger, turmeric, star anise, tejpet (bay leaf), chilly pepper and black pepper and is also home to quite a few indigenous spices like Lakadong Turmeric, Bird’s Eye Chilli, King Chilli and Nadia Ginger. Thanks to the initiatives of the Government of Sikkim, it has become the first organic state. The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi officially launched the organic logo during Sikkim Organic Fair on January 18, 2016.

The Spices Board has implemented a number of programmes to promote cultivation of organic spices like turmeric, ginger, herbal spices, seed spices and chillies. It also helps farmers get organic certification and regularly participates in Biofach Germany and America to showcase Indian organic spices to global buyers. The Board is also encouraging NGOs and farmer groups to promote and adopt organic farming techniques. In the major growing regions, efforts are on to develop the requisite infrastructure to sustain the growth, which are expected to further help India leverage its huge potential in this segment.

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