In the next few years, Indian spices will lose their prominence in the international market because of low output. In a report placed in the Rajya Sabha it said that despite initiatives taken by the government, the productivity of spices in India remained ‘low and uncompetitive’ to meet the increasing global demand.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce said in its report on ‘Activities and Functioning of Spices Board’, “there is a plethora of programmes being implemented by the Spices Board and Agriculture Ministry for the development of spices in India and the quantum of production of spices sector is praiseworthy, but there still exists a lack of exportable surplus of spices.”
The report noted that considering the several natural advantages that India possessed, the production of spices should be in surplus to meet the increasing global demand. Lack of quality planting materials, small sized land holdings, pest and disease occurrences, climate fluctuation, presence of old and senile plants in the case of perennial crops, lack of irrigation facilities are the major challenges in increasing the productivity in spices sector.
The report further added that production of small cardamom had decreased in 2016-17 compared to the previous year, whereas the increase in production of large cardamom was not considerable enough to be happy about. It directed the Spices Board to take necessary action to improve production. It also recommended transfer of production and development of five major spices — turmeric, pepper, chilli, ginger and garlic to the Spices Board on lines of cardamom.
The committee also recommended the Commerce Department to accelerate the constitution of Spices Board since the tenure of several members had terminated. The Board lacked adequate representation from the Northeast and asked the department to take appropriate steps to increase their representation.