Also, value-added products, which presently comprised 58 per cent of the exports, should be increased to 75 per cent. "These are the twin goals being set for the spices sector and these are eminently feasible if the industry, trade, scientists and researchers all work together," he added. Stressing the need to increase productivity, he said this was the key for the survival of the spices industry. To this end, replantation programmes had been started for cardamom and pepper.
Also, spices parks were being set up in major spice trading centres in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Gujarat. These would have the latest technology for cleaning, processing, packing and warehousing.
In Kerala, where the state government had failed to acquire land even 15 months after the foundation stone was laid for the spices park in Idukki district, it had been decided that the Spices Board would go ahead and purchase the land and set up the spices park, the minister said.
Underlining the need for quality control, he said there was a tremendous demand for organic spices and India had great potential to emerge as a world leader in organic products. The north-eastern states were ideal for organic cultivation and would be developed as a production hub for organic spices. A pilot project had been started by the Spices Board in Asom for organic turmeric and ginger.
Also, non-traditional spices such as fenugreek, fennel, cumin and coriander should be focussed on to boost exports, Mr Ramesh said. In order to address quality issues, regional quality testing laboratories were being set up. One such laboratory, to check pesticide residues in spices, would start functioning at Mumbai in June, Spices Board Chairman V J Kurien said.
Later, Mr Ramesh awarded trophies and merit certificates to more than 140 exporters and spice farmers for excellence in production and export during the past three years.