Kochi, Oct 1 (UNI) In a bid to help vanilla farmers hit by a slump in international prices, the union commerce ministry is trying to promote domestic consumption through mandatory labelling of synthetic vanilla products and a Rs 15 crore subsidy scheme for use of natural vanilla, Minister of State Jairam Ramesh said.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr Ramesh said his ministry was planning to immediately move the health ministry for mandatory labelling of synthetic vanilla in products such as icecreams.
It had also told the Spices Board to prepare a scheme to subsidise the use of natural vanilla for a period of three years with an outlay of Rs five crore per year.
Stating that natural vanilla was ten times costlier than synthetic vanilla, Mr Ramesh said under the proposed scheme, icecream manufacturers in the cooperative and public sectors would be offered a subsidy to replace synthetic vanilla with natural vanilla.
This should help to liquidate the stocks of 200 tonnes of cured vanilla beans lying with the farmers and also an expected production of 100 tonnes this year.
Almost 50,000 farmers in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had taken up vanilla cultivation over 5,000 hectares. However, while the Spices Board had recommended vanilla cultivation as an inter-crop, the farmers had taken it up as the main crop in view of the increased prices a few years ago.
Mr Ramesh said the commerce ministry was of the view that India could never be a major producer or exporter of vanilla, which was dominated by Madagascar (70 per cent) and Indonesia and Uganda (20 per cent). India's total share of the world vanilla exports was only two per cent, he said.