A 13-member delegation of traders from various European countries visited Asia's largest chilli yard and some chilli farms in Amaravathi here on Friday to get a first-hand account of trading practices being followed here.
Unmindful of the pungent odour and the heat, the members of delegation led by, vice-president of AVT McCormick, a US-based spice company, Sibi Thomas, went around the chilli yard interacting with farmers, commission agents and the traders.
The delegation have been told of the recent modernisation of chilli yard, including computerisation of all transaction, introduction of weighbridges to record the amount of produce and the recent introduction of SMS-based query.
Local chilli trader and chairman of Agrasia Impex, N. Sriram explained about the cultivation practices in high lands, conventional drying and packing techniques.
The delegation appreciated the quality of the produce, though expressing apprehensions about the stringent European Union's curbs on import of spices which contain pesticide residues and traces of aflotoxin.
Some of them hinted that even United States of America might follow suit and impose restrictions on imports of spices.
Mr. Sriram also explained about the Quality Evaluation Laboratories (QEL) recently set by the Spices Board at the regional office at Chuttugunta in Guntur.
The QEL has been playing an important role in enhancing the value addition of various spices, including chillies, thus enhancing their export potential.
Though the exporters have initially expressed their reservations over going for quality certification, they have realised the value of the certificate after their exports have started shooting up, he said adding that traders used to bide time in getting certificates their samples from Kochi in Kerala. Thanks to new stringent certification procedures, India's exports have shot up to Rs.5,500 crore during 2009, out of which chillies constitute about 20 per cent. About 2 lakh tonnes of chillies were exported during 2009 and this was expected to increase by 10 per cent in 2010.