Chennai to have a Spice Development Centre
CHENNAI: As many as 11 spice development centres will come up in places like Kochi, Chennai, Mumbai and Guntur to harness India's richness in spices for export purposes, said minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Seetharaman on Friday.
"The Spices Board of India is currently working on 52 spices, including nutmeg, cardamom, saffron and chilly, to reduce the residual matter in them and make them export quality. We are seeing stiff competition from smaller countries and we need to give more value addition for our spice buyers," the minister said while speaking at the regional editors meeting held by the Press Information Bureau in Chennai.
In the case of tea, e-auctions have seen remarkable interest with more than 90% of tea that came up for auction sold.
"About 18.86% of the area under tea cultivation in India is from Tamil Nadu as is 18% tea produced by the country. E-auctions in Kochi, Coonoor and Coimbatore have done well. Initially, smaller tea growers were concerned as to whether they'd get a fair dealing, but we have managed to allay their concerns and the bidding is done in a fair and transparent fashion," said the minister.
With regard to coffee, she said newer sites had been identified for coffee growth. "We have 4.34 lakh hectares under coffee cultivation primarily in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. But with fresh impetus from the central and state governments, farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Uttarakhand have also started growing Robusta and Arabica varieties," she said.
The Centre is also keen on promoting growth of organic coffee as the price that it can command in the international market is 4-5 times that of coffee grown under current methods. "There needs to be an overhauling in the way we grow coffee. We need to adopt new technique," said Seetharaman.
The export ministry is taking a multi-pronged approach and will be concentrating on diversification of India's product basket in exports, lowering logistics cost and protecting sensitive markets from the impact of cheap imports flooding the market.
"Cheap rubber imported from China is a concern that the industry has raised to us. Honestly, India's local production of rubber cannot meet all the local demand for rubber. So we will have to import for meeting the rubber consumption needs of industries, but at the same time we are trying to strike a balance. And we will not be allowing imports to hurt local industry or talent," she said.