Even as I delve into the realm of Spices, I couldn't help wondering about its intricacies, seen here in the Indian context. After all, India is the Spice Bowl of World, appropriately said because it is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices.
While this sounds impressive, I wanted to know more about our spice production and that's what led me on to the Spices Board website. I learnt that India produces more than 65 spices in different varieties out of the 109 Spices listed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization). The estimated world trade in spices is 1.05 million tonnes valued at 2,750 mn USD, of which India has a significant share of 48 per cent in quantity and 43 per cent in value.
These statistics indicate that our spice production is being beefed up to cater to international markets. It's no surprise that the Spices Board came forward with a novel idea of setting up Spice Parks in various spice growing regions of the country. Spices Board established its first Park at Lass Village of Umranala, Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. This 10-acre Park is mainly meant for the chilli and garlic. Likewise, the Spices Park at Jodhpur, Rajasthan aims at setting up infrastructure and processing facilities for Seed Spices like Coriander and Fenugreek. Other seed spices like cumin and fennel can also be processed in this park. Moving on, the Spices Board has been expanding its footprint in many states.
These Parks are industrial Parks, complete with warehouse facilities and backend operations. The Parks take our spices to the next level, in terms of processing and better production facilities. The accent is also on techniques related to cultivation and post harvesting methods.
Notwithstanding that, the Spice Parks also function as a platform for fine tuning technical skills that are on par with global standards. Let's not forget, one of the main contributions of these Parks is towards the betterment of our farming community. Thousands of farmers are expected to reap benefits, seen in the form of agricultural improvements and upgrading harvesting techniques and thereby contributing towards the value-supply chain. That's because Spice Parks facilitate farmers to sell their produce directly to the various people in the supply chain located within the Parks. So it simply means that the Park will provide farmers direct linkages to the consumers (in this case, spice manufacturers or retailers).
The establishment of Spice Parks is not to be seen in isolation, it needs to be put in its contextual sense. Many of these Parks are on the outskirts, because of which it stands every chance of attracting infrastructure developers. It means we can look forward to better road and rail connectivity, which helps the Park get visibility. Besides connectivity, we can also count on other aspects like good water and power supply.
Let's digress from here and see the impact of Spice Parks on the industry, that's both immediate and long term effect. Spice Parks along with their allied services like grading, packing and storing are bound to open up jobs. Ideally, they should create job openings for rural communities living in the fringe areas surrounding these Parks.
The fact that these Spice Parks are meant to scale up spice production should become a clarion call for individual spice retailers and manufacturers to start processing units in the Spice Parks - through the private public partnership mode. The presence of processing units also implies that packaging and marketing should go a few notches higher and appeal to a wider audience.
This needs to be seen in the context of raising the bar for production. It's an indication that we can improve standards of spice production, while also ensuring that the quantum of spices is also increased proportionately.Now that's really a world out there, waiting to be addressed. So what are we waiting for? Destination - Spice Parks - Correct?