22 Mar, 2021
By: Dr Poonam Pande, Advisor, GIZ
India is the largest producer, consumer, and exporter of spices in the world and accounts for half the global spice trade. During 2018-19, a total of 1.10 million tonnes of spices and spice products valued at INR 19,505.81 crore (USD 2.80 billion) have been exported from the country as against 10,28,060 tonnes valued at INR 17,980.16 crore (USD 2.78 billion) in 2017-18, registering an increase of 7 per cent in volume1. Indian spices are primarily exported to western markets, where there is an increased consumer demand for ecologically certified products. Organically certified cultivation is also becoming important to India where this market segment is growing at an annual rate of 25-30 per cent. There is a further need to build up appropriate capacities in production.
Around 85 per cent of the spice production in India is done by small-scale farmers, who typically farm less than two hectares and seasonally rotate spices cultivation alongside other crops. They face an uncertain pricing environment and adverse climatic situations. Fertilizers and pesticides tend to have long persistence in the soil, so they affect the soil micro ﬂora thereby disturbing soil health2. High levels of pesticide residue also make spices unfit for export to consumer markets thereby threatening the long-term livelihood of farmers. The dependency of farmers on local traders and middlemen is often high due to inadequate access to finance and market information. One of the important negative impacts of the current farming practices is the loss of biodiversity and the lack of water for irrigation which has increasingly become a threat to most spice growing regions.
Unsustainable practices have resulted in a loss of the smallholder farmer’s income as the produce is of poor quality and many market rejections happen along with less price offerings. Changing climatic conditions have put farmers under additional stress. As a result, spice production is not very attractive for young farmers. Building climate-resilient farming practices is hence crucial for the survival of the sector.
GIZ and AVT McCormick have partnered to implement a develop public-private partnership (DPPP) project in four states in India, viz. Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan. The project aims to sustainably strengthen the production of cardamom, cumin, and turmeric in these geographies, to increase the capacities of spice farmers. The overall aim of the project is to strengthen the capacities of farmers to make production practices more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable and to establish stable spice supply chains. This will result in improved productivity which is expected to increase farmers’ income and thereby contribute to the improvement of their livelihoods (expected impact). Sustainable spice production will strengthen the economic resilience of these farmers. The project measures will ensure that spice farming remains financially attractive and productive in the longer run. They will also assure the delivery of food-safe spices and good ecosystem services from which the farming communities, AVT McCormick and the Indian spice market will benefit.
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