India is known as the home of spices and boasts of a long history of trading with the ancient civilisations of Rome and China. Today, Indian spices are the most sought-after globally, given their exquisite aroma, texture and taste. India has the largest domestic market for spices in the world. India is the world's largest producer and exporter of spices of the 109 varieties listed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as the country produces and exports about 75 varieties of spices.
Spices find their use in pharmaceuticals, beverages, personal hygiene products and food processing. India’s varying climatic conditions provides huge scope for cultivation of a variety of spices. The top producing states include Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam and West Bengal.
Organic agriculture has gained considerable importance in recent years. Research programmes promoting organic cultivation of important spices have been promoted. The country presently exports around 1400 MT (2011-12) tonnes of organic spices, valued at Rs 47 crores. USA, Germany, Netherlands are the major countries where Indian organic spices are exported.
The major spices exported include pepper, chilli, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, celery, nutmeg and mace garlic, tamarind and vanilla. Processed spices such as spice oils and oleoresins, mint products, curry powder, spice powders, blends and seasonings are also exported.
The US is the major importer followed by China, Vietnam, the UAE, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Germany, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Exports to the US stood at US$ 351.6 million followed by China at US$ 335.39 million in 2012-13.
The Spices Board of India is the nodal agency which works towards the development and worldwide promotion of Indian spices. It provides quality control and certification, registers exporters, documents trade information and provides inputs to the Central Government on policy matters. It participates in major international fairs and food exhibitions to promote Indian spices, apart from organising various domestic events.