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Food safety issues worry Indian spice industry

Hrishikesh Joshi  |  Mumbai/ Pune 

Indian spice traders and producers are facing challenges like food safety, sustainability and traceability. regulations are affecting spice exports especially to the countries like Germany, France, England, Japan and Australia. India is biggest producer and exporter of spices in the world. As the regulations varies from country-to-country, it is becoming hard to maintain all the required standards.

According to reports, the total export of spices from India during the current financial year, up to November 2011, is 351,900 tonnes valued at Rs 6,209.08 crore.

But considering the volumes, the export shows a decline of five per cent in the current year as compared to the previous year. The spices exports for the financial year 2011-12 is fixed at 500,000 tonnes valuing Rs 6,500 crore.

The countries that import the maximum of spice products from India are Malaysia for chilli and coriander, USA for pepper, celery, spice oils and oleo resins, China for mint products, Saudi Arabia for cardamom, UAE for turmeric, Bangladesh for ginger and garlic, Pakistan for cardamom large and fennel, UK for cumin, Japan for fenugreek, Nigeria for curry powders and Nepal for other seed spices.

Geemon Korah, CEO, Ltd said, "These regulations are badly hitting our export Therefore sustainability is a major issue.

The maximum containers are rejected from European countries, Japan and Australia. We are largest exporter of chilli and ginger to these countries."

"India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices in the world today, contributing about 48 per cent of the world's requirement of spices. As the global demand for spices is spurring up, it throws up several challenges, mainly for food sustainability, traceability and safety standards. These are not just issues, but threats that can affect the very existence of the spice industry in the country," said A Jayathilak, chairman, Spices Board of India,

He added, "problems could be managed through modern processing technology, but contaminants, pesticide residues and toxins remained important issues."

As an initiative, to ensure traceability the board has established quality evaluation labs in major centres like Cochin, Chennai, Mumbai, Guntur in Andhra Pradesh and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. These labs service testing of spices specifically chilli and turmeric to match international requirements. New labs are under construction in Kandla in Gujarat, Delhi and Kolkata.

P M Sureshkumar, secretary and director, marketing Spice Board said, "To cater to the fast developing international requirements, India is focusing on development of infrastructure facilities. The Board has set up spices parks which offers common facilities to cleaning, grading, value addition, storage and marketing in major spices growing states. Spices Parks are established in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh and in Puttady in Kerala focusing on garlic in the former and on pepper and cardamom."

Among the major spices exported from India, chilli contributes 132,500 tonnes occupies the first place. Other major spices that are exported from India include turmeric (58,000 tonnes), Cumin (26,500 tonnes), Coriander (18,200 tonnes), Pepper (17,000) , Fenugreek (14,700 tonnes), Ginger (11, 250 tonnes) , Fennel (5,100 tonnes ), Nutmeg & mace (2,550 tonnes), celery (2,450 tonnes) , Cardamom small (3,100 tonnes) and Cardamom Large (475 tonnes), Garlic (1075 tonnes).

First Published: Sat, February 11 2012. 00:48 IST
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