India - The Land of Spices
India is the major producer, consumer and exporter of spices in the world. India grows over 60 different varieties of spices because of varied agro-climatic conditions and soil types. India produces about 60 Lakh MT of spices, of which, about 6.9 Lakh MT (11%) is exported to more than 150 countries.
In recent years, organic agriculture has been gaining considerable importance. Many farmers today show interest all over the world in organic farming. Several of them have begun switching to this traditional method of cultivation as a means to produce safe foodstuffs and preserve the environment. The concept of organic farming is not new to India but Indian Farmers traditionally follow the indigenous farming principles and practices for a sustainable farming and preservation of environment which are in tune with present day organic farming concepts.
World Demand for Organic Products
The world demand for organic products is growing rapidly in developed countries like Europe, USA, Japan and Australia. The current estimated share of organic foods in these countries is approximately 1 to 1.5 per cent. Worldwide, food trends are changing with a marked health orientation. Since organic foods are free from chemical contaminants, the demand for these products are steadily increasing.
The Indian Spices Board Initiative
Spices Board India has prepared a document on production of organic spices during 1998. It features the organic concepts, principles, basic standards, production guidelines, documentation, inspection and certification. The document has been published after approval by the National Standards Committee constituted by the members of IFOAM in India. The Board jointly with Association of Members of IFOAM in India has conducted a training programme on "Inspection and certification Procedures' to the officials of the Board and NGOs during 1998.
Research programmes on organic cultivation of important spices have commenced. The work is carried out at the Spices Board's Indian Cardamom Research Institute at ldukki District in Kerala. Spices Board is regularly conducting training programmes to the spice growers, farmers' groups, members of NGOs and Officials of State Agriculture Dept on principles and practices of organic farming with special reference to spices.
Promoting Organic Spices Production
The Board encourages non-governmental organisations and farmers' groups to promote and adopt organic farming techniques. Infrastructure development for production of organic inputs is on stream in prominent growing areas. Development of vermi-compost units and supply of post-harvest aids for upgrading quality of the produce at farm level are also in progress.
Certification of Organic Spices
Certification for organic spice farms is an essential pre-requisite for marketing the produce as organic especially in the international markets. Realizing the potential for export of organic products, Ministry of Commerce, Govt of India has set up National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) in April 2000. A National Steering Committee (NSC) was set up by the Ministry of Commerce under NPOP. Spices Board is active member in NPOP. Maintaining strict quality control standards, India's National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), ensures the export of only those products which qualify the National Standards for Organic production. National Accreditation Body [NAB] set up under NPOP is responsible for accreditation of organic Certification Bodies in the country. As per the National Accreditation Policy, all the certifying agencies operating in India are to obtain accreditation from National Accreditation Body [NAB]. At present, there are 24 certification bodies accredited under NPOP.
For more details about NPOP standards, Accreditation Policy, the list of certification agencies operating in India,Please Visit: http://www.apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/organic/Organic_Products.htm
Helps in sourcing organic spices
The Spices Board facilitates overseas buyers in sourcing organic spices from India. The country has the capability to produce and supply a variety of organic spices. Spices Board regularly participates in Biofach, Germany to showcase and promote the Indian certified organic Spices to the international buyers.
Export of organic spices from India has started in right earnest. The country at present exports around 1400 MT (2011-12) tonnes of organic spices, valued at 47 crores. USA, Germany, Netherlands are the major countries to which Indian organic spices are exported. Exports will get a significant boost in the coming years.