Kochi, Jan 16 (UNI) Expressing confidence that the Indian spices exports will touch the US$ 10 billion mark by 2017, Spices Board Chairman V J Kurian said the country was prepared to meet the challenge posed by China and Vietnam in this field.
Addressing a press conference here last night, Mr Kurian said the country had already touched the US$ one billion export mark in spices in this fianancial year, up from US$ 792 million last year.
Asked about the emerging competition from Vietnam and China, Mr Kurian said the competition from Vietnam was mostly in pepper but India had a big advantage over that country in processing infrastructure.
''We are also strengthening our processing infrastructure through the proposed spices parks and do not anticipate much problem with Vietnam coming up in pepper trade,'' he added.
He admitted that there was some competition from China in chilli and ginger but said the Indian product enjoyed better credibility because of quality.
India at present accounts for 44 per cent of the world spices trade in volume terms and 36 per cent in value, with chilli, pepper, ginger, coriander, cumin and cardamom being the main export items.
The annual production of these spices in recent years had gone well above four million tonnes. Also, attention was being paid to setting up adequate processing and value addition infrastructure and maintainig safety standards, Mr Kurian said.
While the US and Europe accounted for almost 75 per cent of the Indian spice exports, efforts were being made to explore new markets in West Africa and East Asia, All India Spices Exporters Forum Chairperson Sushama Srikandath said.
Also, besides the traditional Indian spices, new herbal spices such as oregano and rosemary were now being grown, processed and exported from India, she said.
Asked about negotations with the Kerala Government on getting land in Idukki district for the proposed Spices Park, Mr Kurian said discussions were on and expressed hope that something would work out before the March, 2008, deadline set by the union commerce ministry to get the land.
''We are hopeful that the land will be given and Kerala will not lose the proposed park,'' he added.
However, Mr Kurian refused to comment on the recent move by the LDF government not to renew the lease of certain private sector plantations in the state on the ground that these were forest lands.
On the fixing of tariff value for spice imports, Mr Kurian said the Centre was considering a proposal to this effect but no decision had been taken so far.