Guwahati, Feb 22: Spice growers and traders from across the North-East explored business leads for the domestic market and export of high-quality organic spices from the region, including celebrated indigenous varieties such as Lakadong turmeric, Nadia ginger and Bhut Jalokia chilli, at a Buyer-Seller meet organized by the Spices Board here today.
More than 100 farmers from the seven sister states and Sikkim had the opportunity for direct interactions with buyers that comprised around 30 exporters, representatives of retail chains, supermarkets, hotels and hospitality businesses at the NEDFi Convention Center in Guwahati today. Around 10 small cardamom farmers from Kerala also participated.
The Buyer-Seller Meet followed the day-long National Seminar held on Wednesday to discuss strategies for spices promotion and strengthening of supply chains, as well as updating farmers in the region with know-how on efficient farming practices, harvest and post-harvest processing and value-addition and the need for more farmer-producer organizations.
Shri Amlan Baruah IAS, Commissioner & Secretary, Agriculture, Assam, who inaugurated the meet, called it an “effective step to eliminate the involvement and role of the middleman in the supply chain” that was essential for both sellers and buyers to maximize profits.
He said that despite the superior quality spices produced in the North-East, growers were finding it difficult to sell their produce and get fair prices for it for reasons such as lack of aggregation of produce, non-awareness of the market demand, lack of knowledge of processing and value additions of spices.
Shri Nithin Joe , Deputy Director (Marketing), Spices Board, Kochi, said the Board has been attempting to address these issues with a number of initiatives including setting up field offices, drawing up projects for states to assist farmers, building awareness through seminars and workshops for growers, and establishing demonstration plots for black pepper, turmeric and ginger in various regions.
The North East region enjoys a significant advantage in that the spices produced in the region are organic by default because of low chemical inputs, he noted. Although the farmers traditionally follow organic cultivation practices, ignorance about organic certification, and the costs and complexities involved in the documentation process puts them at a disadvantage.
“The Spices Board has been promoting the adoption of organic cultivation practices through its various programmes and schemes,” he said.
Some of the highly marketable varieties unique to the region include Meghalaya’s Lakadong Turmeric which has the highest concentration of curcumin; Nadia ginger which is known for its relatively low fibre and high oil and oleoresin content; and GI registered spices Naga Mircha (Bhut Jalokia) of Nagaland, one of the hottest chillies of the world, Sikkim Large Cardamom, Assam Karbi Anglong ginger, and Mizo Chilli.
Dr. A B Remashree, Director ( R&D), Spices Board said the national seminar, supported by the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) and the Department of Horticulture, Government of Assam, outlined strategies to provide holistic support to farmers to help increase their incomes.
Among the subjects discussed were the latest developments in research into spices, advancements in harvesting, processing and value addition; value-chain management; entrepreneurship development and credit support in the sector. The need for crop insurance of cardamom and need-based project formulation were also discussed.
Resource persons from Central and state institutes, senior officers of state Horticulture and Agriculture Departments, exporters and traders from across the country, progressive farmers, growers groups and NGOs, and processors from all the north-east states attended the sessions.
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