THE Spices Board plans to set up spice parks in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to help create a brand identity for Indian spices. It also plans to establish a network of testing and evaluation laboratories and regional facilities for certification of organic products.
The spice parks will promote certified organic spices and create hubs for producing spices and spice products free from traces of pesticide residues and other contaminants. The parks will have state-of-the-art machinery for cleaning, grinding, grading, sorting and packing spices and facilities for warehousing. Entrepreneurs will be able to set up processing units in the parks for direct export. The target is to reach a $10-billion export turnover in 10 years, according to Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh. In Kerala, the State Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) and the Spices Board signed an MoU in February 2007 to set up the Rs.40-crore processing facility for cardamom and pepper in Idukki district.
In August 2007, the Spices Board for the first time introduced electronic auction for cardamom, the mainstay crop for thousands of farmers in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It replaces the noisy traditional system that had been in place for centuries in the main spice-producing areas of Keralas Idukki district and Tamil Nadu.
The electronic auction centres, with over 60 terminals each, have been established at Bodinayakanur, a trading centre in Tamil Nadu, and Vandanmedu in Idukki. The new system is expected to fetch the farmers a better deal and eliminate middlemen. The Board has plans to introduce electronic auctions for chilli and tobacco soon.R. Krishnakumar