Arunachal Pradesh is all set to double the production of large cardamom in the next 5-6 years, agriculture and horticulture minister Tage Taki said on Wednesday.

Taki said this while addressing a global webinar on “Local to Global – Spices of India” organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

“Arunachal has been taking several steps to streamline the production of spices such as large cardamom, turmeric, ginger and chillies,” said Taki.

Last year, we managed to export 5,020 MT spices valued at Rs 24.89 crore. In the next 5-6 years, we aim to double the production of large cardamom,” the minister said.

Taki said there are, however, several challenges which the government is trying to address.

“There are severe price fluctuations. The price of a spice that was trading at almost Rs 1,200-1,300 per kg has now come down to Rs 400-450 per kg. This is not due to demand-supply mismatch but due to the manipulation of middlemen. This will be addressed,” he said.

The minister said Arunachal is also taking steps to promote the cultivation of organically-grown spices.

“While it is not possible to cultivate everything organically at the same time, we are doing it in a phased manner. Almost 5,000 hectares of land consciously have been brought under organic farming and another 5,000 hectares have already been identified for a similar process,” he said.

Taki added that the new farmers have already opted for organic farming.

Taki further stated that India has been a house of spices since time immemorial.

“Demand for Indian spices is due to their aroma, taste and medicinal value. Spices are one of the natural contributors to India’s export kitty and a major source of income for the country. Today, spice contributes around 4% to the country’s GDP. Its prominence in recent times has gone up due to technological advancements,” he said.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Kailash Choudhary, said that since ancient times, India has been an important global player in spices.

“Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the demand for Indian spices has gone up exponentially due to its medicinal value and to boost one’s immunity. The Government of India too has been taking active steps to promote the same,” he said.

Choudhary explained that the central government has spent almost Rs 1 lakh crore to create the agriculture infrastructure.

“The government is also giving out loans worth Rs 3 crore without any collateral to smaller businesses in this space. The rate of interest is almost 3% lower and the borrower has to repay the money over a period of seven years. The money is again given to other businesses on rotation thus creating additional job opportunities,” he pointed out.

According to the Union minister, the central government’s initiative of One Nation, One Market will go a long way in helping the farmers.

“Earlier, farmers were forced to sell their produce at the market in the same vicinity. After the new scheme, they are free to sell it off anywhere in the country. This would ensure that they would get a proper price for their produce and at the same time would also attract investments in the agriculture sector from the private players,” he said.

He added that the Local to Global initiative would also ensure the doubling of farm incomes by 2022.

Spices Board of India secretary, D Sathiyan, in his keynote address said several initiatives are being taken to support farmers and exporters.

He stated partnership engagements with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of AYUSH shall help with the sustainable development of the spice sector of the country and further enhance India’s position in the world market.

The other speakers included M T Sherpa, secretary, department of horticulture Government of Sikkim, Sanjeev Bisht, business head (spices) at ITC Limited, Nitin Puri, senior president Food and Agri Strategic Advisory & Research, Yes Bank and Gulshan John, managing director, Nedspice.

DAMIEN LEPCHA

Damien Lepcha is Northeast Now Correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at: lepcharaul@gmail.com