Spice Board should set up Spice Park: Union Minister

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Bydagi, Karnataka, Mar 21 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh today asked the Spice Board to explore the possibilities for setting up a 'Spice Park' in the region comprising Dharwad, Gadag and Haveri districts.

Inaugurating country's first chilly processing unit, set up by STCL, he said the Spice Park required 100 acres of land and an investment of Rs ten crore. The park would help the production of value added goods of farm produce, he said.

The Centre also plans to set up Spice Parks in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, he said.

The chilly processing unit, with the capacity to process 20 tonnes of chilly per day, would help the farmers to avoid middlemen in selling their produce. They could also save post harvest expenditure, as they could bring the chilly directly to the unit, without drying it, he added.

The Minister assured the people to set up a Chilly Testing Laboratory at Byadagi within six months, with an investment of Rs 1.5 crore.

Urging the chilly farmers and traders to protect the brand name of 'Bydagi Chilly', he said they should also apply for geographical indication for 'Bydagi Chilly' on the lines of 'Darjeeling Tea' and 'Mysore Silk'.

The Minister also directed the Spice Board to examine the feasibility of providing subsidy for tarpaulins used for drying chilly, as per the people's demand for drying facility for chilly.

Though the Bydagi Chilly did not have 'hot' and 'pungent' quality of Guntur Chilly, it has more demand in international market.

The Minister wanted the Spice Board to explore the possibility of converting its present regional office in Hubli into a zonal office on the lines of Guntur Zonal office. He appealed to the farmers to go for organic farming as it would fetch more price for their produce.

Former leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council H K Patil urged the Minister to impress upon the Centre to extend the cut of date of waiver of farm loan till June, 2007.

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