BUSINESS

MPs' panel moots Spices Authority



Special Correspondent

Calls for new strategy to boost the sector

Little improvement in productivity, qualityCloser attention to cardamom too needed

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the stagnation in output and export of spices, a Parliamentary Committee has suggested setting up an umbrella Spices Development Authority to increase India's presence in world markets.

It has proposed that the authority should have a large mandate covering research, production, value addition, domestic self-sufficiency and export promotion.

In its 80th report, the Partliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce has also underlined the need for a comprehensive strategy to `jumpstart' this sector. This would include mandating the Spices Board to act as a repository of all market, technical and policy information concerning the spices sector.

It has also called for setting up a system to help in introducing better technologies and farm practices, while promoting safe post-harvest handling.

The panel has pointed out that cultivation and development of most spices comes under the purview of the Departments of Agriculture, Horticulture and Forests while export development is with the Spices Board.

Highlighting the need to give more importance to spice trade, the committee says that both productivity and quality of spices have not improved nor has the country's share in international markets increased. It has suggested that emphasis be laid on intensive cultivation and improved practices of sowing, harvesting, grading and packaging which should be on a par with international standards.

"The committee therefore recommends that in order to substantially increase the productivity and quality of spices in the country and to increase India's presence in world markets, an umbrella Spices Development Authority should be set up with a larger mandate covering research, production value addition, domestic self-sufficiency and export promotion,'' the panel has stated. The committee was also `dismayed' to find that there was a shortfall in funds in respect of some major schemes undertaken in the Tenth Plan. It expressed the hope that such a situation would not recur in the Eleventh Plan.

The committee advised the Spices Board to pay closer attention to both productivity and quality of cardamom so that the export graph of this spice could register substantial rise both in quantitative and value terms. In this context, it observed that the export graph of small cardamom has been fluctuating but that of large cardamom has been steadily going up. However, the value realisation for both small and large varieties has been decreasing every year, it pointed out.

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