Dr A Jayathilak

Chairman, Spices Board of India

Interview

February 15, 2016

/ By



Focus on Quality

Dr A Jayathilak Chairman, Spices Board of India

Dr A Jayathilak, Chairman, Spices Board of India


 
Despite being a major exporter of spices globally, India continues to grapple with quality on account of issues such as contamination, hygiene and pesticide residues, says Dr A Jayathilak.
 
What are the initiatives taken by the Spices Board to strengthen the spice sector since you took charge in 2011?
 
The Spices Board is a regulatory body for promotion of Indian spices providing assistance to stakeholders of the spice industry to ensure its growth and promotion in the global market. The various initiatives include opening up of new offices in almost all states under 11 Spice Development agencies to facilitate access with farmers and exporters in the remotest areas. Initiatives have also been taken to include farmers in the supply chain system through the e-Chili Bazaar project.

Codex Committee for Spices and Culinary herbs has been set up as a result of proposals submitted to the Codex Alimentarius Committee by Spices Board on behalf of India. Subsidies are being given to farmers and exporters through various schemes for mechanisation of cultivation practices and upgradation of post harvest techniques. Storage facilities are also being provided through spice parks so as to ensure the quality of spices. We are also conducting training classes on the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and to impart technical know how of good agriculture practices and good hygiene methods to farmers and exporters.

India being the largest producer and exporter of spices, what is the current spice export from India?

During the last FY (Fiscal Year), a total of 8,93,920 tonnes of spices and spice products valued at USD 2432.85 million was exported as against 8,17,250 tonnes valued at USD 2267.67 million in 2013-14, registering an increase of 9 pc in volumes and in value – 8 pc in rupee terms and 7 pc in dollar terms.

The total export of spices during 2014-15 has exceeded the target in terms of both volume and value. Compared to the target of 755,000 tonnes valued at USD 2,000 million for FY 2014-15, the achievement is 118 pc in terms of volume and in value – 121 pc in rupee terms and 122 pc in dollar terms. USA, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, UAE, UK and Germany are the biggest importers of Indian spices.

How is 2016 turning out for Indian spice exports?

India is the only country producing and exporting more than 65 varieties of spices, thereby renowned as the ‘Land of Spices’. The export of spices during April to September 2016 has earned the country USD 1.2 billion, showing an increase of 9 pc as compared to USD 1 billion in the corresponding period of 2014- 15. The United States of America still tops the list of major importing countries of Indian spices followed by China, Vietnam, Malaysia and United Arab Emirates. The demand for Indian spices has been increasing at a constant rate in the global market and is likely to continue in the coming years as well.

As one of the key exporters of spices, what are the challenges faced by India in the global market?

Major challenges faced by India in the global market are in the quality aspects in terms of contamination, hygiene and pesticide residue in spices. In order to check them, we are conducting quality training programmes at various levels on judicious use of pesticides during outbreak of diseases and to encourage the use of IPM and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The Board is conducting a series of quality improvement classes and spice clinics headed by scientists from the Mumbai-based ICRI (Institute of Clinical Research) to educate farmers and exporters on the importance of producing clean and quality spices.

Polythene sheets and IPM kits are distributed to farmers at a subsidised rate and subsidies are given for implementation of mechanised farming in field, installing drying units, boiling units, distillation units, and various value addition knowledge for certain key spices.

Can India capture bigger spice markets with more organic spice being cultivated in the country?

Organic spice sectors are growing in India at a huge pace, and importers are keen to purchase the organic spices and spice products from India. We receive various queries from importers for procuring organic spices, owing to the quality of the product obtained from India. The organic spice farmers achieve a huge profit compared to those farmers who still follow the conventional practice of cultivation. In future, India shall be the leading exporter of organic spices.

Has India succeeded in persuading importing countries to ease trade barriers?

It is on the initiation of the Spices Board, in order to negotiate with nontariff matters pertaining to quality standards, that has led to the setting up of the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) under Codex Alimentarius Committee, Rome – the international organisation under FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and WHO (World Health Organization) for developing international food standards and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in trade. The Codex Secretariat of CCSCH functions from Spices Board, with the chairman of the Spices Board as the coordinator. The CCSCH aims to set up common international standards for spices and culinary herbs that will solve the issues of consumer health and ensure fair practices, the subjects raised as nontariff barriers. The second session to set up standards initially for around 12 spices was held recently in Goa.

Any new plans to take the fragrance of Indian spices to new geographies?

In order to spread the fragrance of the choicest quality spices and spice products around the world, Spices Board has invited expression of interest from agencies to establish ‘Spices India stall’ as the Board’s franchise in India and abroad.

What are the marketing initiatives undertaken by the Spices Board to popularise spices?

Flavourit Spice Trading Ltd (FSTL), an enterprise of Spices Board, has been set up to promote Indian spices and showcase its authenticity and quality and introduce various value added spice products in the global market through Signature stalls. The FSTL sells spices procured from the farmers under the brand ‘Flavourit’, which helps in including farmers in the supply chain. Secondly, the board has initiated e-chilli bazaar, an important step towards ensuring the traceability of a product. It has been launched in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana covering over 52,000 chilly farmers. This will boost the market of the Indian chillies globally. Depending on its success, the implication of GLN (Global Location Number) through e-Bazaar projects will be spread to all key spices. The Board also intends to boost demand of Indian spices within the country and abroad by creating a platform for interaction between the importers and exporters through World Spice Congress.

What is the concept of spice parks? How many of them have been established and where?

The basic concept of Spice Park is to provide common infrastructure facilities for both post harvest and processing operations of spices and spice products. A total of eight spice parks have been approved. Of these, six parks are functioning while two are under construction.

The functioning spice parks include the ones in Puttady, Kerala; Chindwara, Madhya Pradesh; Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu; Guntur, Andhra Pradesh; Guna, Madhya Pradesh and Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The two parks that are under construction are located at Kota in Rajasthan and Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh.

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