‘God’s gift’ from spice plant – Tea company sets up largest facility in Kaliabor

Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), the second largest tea-producing company in the country, will be offering its spice products under the brand name Anshi.

Anshi means “God’s gift” in Sanskrit.

Amalgamated Spice Park

The company commissioned Amalgamated Spice Park, the largest spice-processing plant in the Northeast which is housed at a state government industrial facility at Kaliabor in Nagaon district on July 29.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurated the project. Besides this, he also inaugurated three more projects of the company.

A senior official of the APPL said in order to be more customer-centric and offer some of its products directly to end-consumers, it has decided to market them under the umbrella brand Anshi.

“It would encapsulate and connote everything that the APPL’s products would offer. Its place of origin and the resultant goodness in health and taste that only natural foods can promise,” he said.

The unit is spread across 6.2 bighas with a built-up area of 30,000 square feet.

“The Spice Park aims to promote the indigenous spices of the Northeast through fair price, value additions and creating market linkages in domestic and international markets for the spice-farming fraternity,” the official said.

It will have three processing lines – one for tuber spices like ginger and turmeric, second for seed spices like black pepper, coriander, mustard and the third one for chilli processing.

Many of the spices have been sourced from spice-specific clusters identified at various locations in the region.

The company at present grows only black pepper and has planted over three lakh trees.

“In the next two years, this figure will be approximately seven lakh trees. The current production is 40 tonnes and on maturity this figure will exceed 600 tonnes,” the official said.

Black pepper is the most-traded spice in the world. It is known as the king of spices for its hot, biting flavour and pungent aroma.

The plan at present is to sell spices to manufacturers across the country. Spices would be available at its kiosks in Assam and the Dooars. Exports will be planned at a later stage.

“The unit has been designed to address sustainability issues through initiatives in water and waste management, use of alternative sources of energy and landscaping for improving air quality,” the official said.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150727/jsp/northeast/story_33857.jsp#.VbsVUvOqqko

*Edited

Spices Board opens two signature shops ‘Spices India’ features value-added products

Spices Board has launched signature shops under the brand name ‘Spices India’ that showcases the country’s choicest spices and their value-added products, including lifestyle and personal care, under one roof.

These two showrooms were opened in the national capital—one on the arterial Janpath road and the other at Dilli Haat, a fashionable open air plaza for ethnic products, in Janakpuri in west Delhi.

Union Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher, while inaugurating the two shops says  “This will promote an array of quality products like spices-infused chocolate slabs, beauty creams, fairness oils, bathing bars, shower gel and shampoo.”

“Purity and quality will be the hallmarks of such outlets. Strict adherence should be made to the correctness of weight and quality. India thrives on spices; so does the world now. Spices are class-neutral. Some spice or the other is to be found in everyone’s palate in our country,” he adds.

Secretary Kher suggested setting up of ‘Knowledge Kisoks’ within the outlets to provide information to visitors on spices grown in various states. “We also need to popularise ‘Spices India’ among the domestic tourists. Our focus should be on improving packaging, processing and branding, besides better utilisation of technology.”

The shops sell aromatic gel candles as a key attraction. These are available with the fragrance of nutmeg, clove, cardamom, mint, vanilla and cinnamon.
‘Spices India’ displays a wide variety of Indian spices and value-added products derived from them. It specially features an assortment of whole spices and a casket of exclusive spices extracts.

A premier gift item is a slab of chocolates that contain cumin, chilly, cinnamon, cardamom and clove tangs. Also available are gift boxes and containers with an array of superior quality spices.

All the showrooms have a ‘Spice Kitchen’ where visitors can touch, feel and taste spices. There are men at the counter willing to provide information about the spices. Further, there is a small library where books and documentaries are available on varieties of spices. To top it all, there is a map of India that shows spices grown in a particular region.

Dr. A. Jayathilak, chairman, Spices Board says,” ‘Spices India’ shops are part of the new thrusts to ensure sustainability of the industry. “We have chalked out an expansion plan. We are talking to the state governments to provide space. We are hopeful of opening new outlets in various parts of the country.”

He said the Board was continuing its efforts to help farmers and collectives to secure a better price for their produce by trading directly with them. “Such a system eliminates middlemen; the collective can demand a fair price for the larger quantity of goods they sell. We are paying them higher price than normal market price,” he added.

Headquartered in Kochi, Spices Board has been adding new spices and products to its export casket also in its bid to accomplish the primary objective of bringing about rapid and systematic diversification of spice industry.

Also, Spices Board’s novel initiative ‘Flavourit’ undertakes the branding, packaging marketing and promotion of finest spice goods collected from individual farmers and collectives to be sold to the general public. It streamlines the efforts of spice growers working at grassroots with market forces by helping growers, collectives and developmental ventures to bring the economic and social inclusion.
With regional laboratories in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Tuticorin and Guntur, the agency places increasing emphasis on value-added spices and spice derivatives in a bid to establish international spice brands and build globally-acceptable benchmarks in quality and safety parameters.

As for flavour, it would seek to restore the quality and popularity of once famous grades of spices like Alleppey Green Extra Bold Cardamom, Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold (TGEB) Malabar Pepper and other spices, known for their culinary, therapeutic and cosmetic properties. Spices Board encourages and facilitates direct purchase from farmers to ensure easy accessibility of the merchandise it sells, besides lending quality to the market products.

Reference – http://www.fnbnews.com/article/detnews.asp?articleid=37391&sectionid=45

Spices exports touch ₹14,900 cr in FY15

Indian spices maintained their robust demand in the international market with exports exceeding the target by touching ₹14,899.68 crore in FY15 against ₹13,735.39 crore in the previous fiscal.

Chilli, mint and mint products, cumin, spice oils and oleoresins, pepper, turmeric, coriander, small cardamom, curry powder/paste and fenugreek contributed substantially to the spices export basket, as the demand scaled up phenomenally at the global level.

About 8,93,920 tonnes of spices and spice products valued at ₹14,899.68 crore ($2,432.85 million) were exported, registering a 9 per cent increase in volume and 8 per cent in rupee terms and 7 per cent in dollar terms in value against 8,17,250 tonnes in FY14. The export figure also exceeded the target of 7,55,000 tonnes.

The achievement is substantial and it was achieved in the face of tough competition. Increased demand for Indian spices in the international market is a testimony to their unmatched quality and escalating faith in their sustainability, A Jayathilak, Chairman, Spices Board, said.

Chilli continued to maintain the leading position in the export basket, accounting for 347,000 tonnes in quantity and ₹3,51,710 lakh in value. Mint and mint products also earned substantial foreign exchange worth ₹2,68,925 lakh through exports of 25,750 tonnes.

In terms of volume, chilli was followed by cumin with an export quantity of 1,55,500 tonnes earning a foreign exchange worth ₹1,83,820 lakh.

Pepper contributed significantly to export earnings by bringing home ₹1,20,842 lakh with a corresponding export volume of 21,450 tonnes.

Value-added spice products like spice oils and oleoresins notched a significant high with figures of 11,475 tonnes and ₹1,91,090 lakh. Turmeric too continued to make great strides with an export volume of 86,000 tonnes, which translated into an earning of ₹74,435 lakh.

Coriander was another major spice with a huge demand in foreign markets. By exporting 46,000 tonnes, it fetched ₹49,812.50 lakh, while curry powder/paste contributed to the exchequer with a tidy amount of ₹ 47,626 lakh through export of 24,650 tonnes.

“Indian spices are not only lucrative products for the national exchequer but have also become a trusted global brand. The challenge for us is to give a huge impetus to their exports and sustain their quality and flavor”, Jayathilak said.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/spices-exports-touch-14900-cr-in-fy15/article7317897.ece

Cementing a new track in growing pepper

Traditionally pepper is grown as an intercrop in plantations. However, a farmer from Enmakaje village, bordering Karnataka and Kerala, has begun growing pepper on a trial basis as a mono-crop with cement poles as support.

Some three years ago when there was a rumour on the likely ban on arecanut, B Gopalakrishna Bhat from Enmakaje village in Kerala’s Kasaragod district thought of diversifying his crop. He felt that pepper plantation was the ideal choice then.

He, along with his neighbour K Mahesh Bhat, approached IISR (Indian Institute of Spices Research) in Kozhikode and got Thevam, Shakti, Srikara and Panchami varieties for planting two years ago.

Cement poles
Gopalakrishna Bhat finalised to grow it as a mono crop and decided to install cement poles as a support for the vines. (Traditionally farmers use arecanut or other trees as a support for pepper vines).
Bhat told that he planted around 100 pepper saplings on a trial basis in his plot.
BP
To a query if using cement poles would be a costly proposition, he said he invested around ₹1,000 for a single sapling, including the cost of the cement pole with 4-inch diameter. The hollow cement pipes have been filled with concrete to make it strong, he said. The height of the poles in his trial plot ranges from 8 ft to 15 ft.

P Chowdappa, Director of the Kasaragod-based Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, told that cement poles can be used for support in pepper plantations. However, people normally do not venture for that as it involves additional investment.

Investment details
Farmers will get more income from multiple crops in same unit area if pepper is cultivated as inter-crop, he said.

Agreeing with him, Gopalakrishna Bhat said the investment will be one-twentieth of his trial plot in the case of pepper as an inter-crop. Highlighting the advantage of pepper as a mono-crop, he said harvesting takes a longer time when it is grown as an inter-crop.He is hopeful of getting around 4 kg of pepper a year from a single plant in this model. He has maintained a spacing of 8×8 ft in his plot.

Yield & disease
On the average yield as an intercrop, he said he got around 5 kg a plant as in intercrop in arecanut plantation, because the plant can go up to a height of 20 ft with arecanut plant as a support. That is not the case in this trial plot, he said.

Stating that this is the 13th month of pepper cultivation as a mono-crop, Bhat said some plants of Thevam variety have begun to bear the berries. The result is not replicated in other varieties, he said.

Narrating his experience, he said around 1,000 saplings can be planted on an acre of land in this model.

On diseases in the plantation, Bhat said he did not face any issue of disease in the last 13 months. He follows the package of practices being suggested by the IISR.

Mahesh Bhat – who planted IISR saplings as intercrop in his farm – said that one of the reasons for disease-free growth in Gopalakrishna Bhat’s plot could be the plain land where the mono-crop cultivation is being taken up. There is no scope for water logging in such a land unlike the arecanut plantations, he said.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/cementing-a-new-track-in-growing-pepper/article7198283.ece

Spice factory to come up in Nagaon

Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) — the second largest tea producer in the country — will commission the largest spice processing unit in the Northeast by the year-end.

Spread around 6 bighas with 30,000 square foot built-up area, the spice unit will come up in December at Naltoli in Nagaon district and will have production facilities forprocessing ginger, turmeric, black pepper, bay leaf, bhut jolokia, mustard and coriander. The spice unit, which will source products from the region, will be housed at the Integrated Infrastructure Development Centre of the Assam government.

“We are growing only pepper in our gardens. The rest will be aggregated from farmers across the region,” told a senior official of the APPL, who looks after its agri-business.

Altogether 3,46,000 pepper vines have been planted, of which 46,000 vines have borne fruit. Self-sufficiency in planting material has been achieved after independent nurseries were set up in all the 25 gardens of the company.

APPL aims to become the country’s largest producer of black pepper, the king of spices, by 2025. The company is investing Rs 20 crore in the spice unit, which will be set up in two phases. The spices will be sold under a brand name. Technical help and post-harvest management support will be provided by expert bodies.

“We will first look at selling to exporters and based upon the response, we will look at the consumer market,” the official said.

He said marketing channels have already been established with the organised sector comprising extractors, blenders and exporters. These sectors will form the core of the company’s marketing efforts and agri-business production, he said.

According to the Spices Board, the region can create exportable surplus of spices at competitive prices to ensure the country’s top spot in the international spice market.

The board is planning to provide financial assistance to spice growers’ co-operatives, farmers’ associations, NGOs representing spice growers and individual entrepreneurs in northeastern and hill states in the 12th Plan to establish primary processing facilities for organised marketing of the produce in the domestic and international markets with possible value addition.

APPL is a full-member of the Sustainable Spices Initiative, which brings together leading international companies and NGOs aiming to transform the mainstream spices sector, thereby securing future sourcing and boosting economic growth in producing countries.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140901/jsp/northeast/story_18785028.jsp#.VAaYVMWSz-u

Spices production to get a boost

The government has rolled out a programme to enlarge the State’s footprint in the spices market by turning the focus on productivity improvement of pepper, nutmeg, clove, turmeric, and ginger.

An amount of Rs.14 crore has been earmarked in the annual Plan for 2014- 15 to bring more land under spice cultivation, use high-yielding varieties, and assist farmers in technology adoption for improved production.

The lion’s share of the funds for programme, Rs.12.5 crore, has been allocated for pepper. Over the year, the Agriculture Department hopes to bring 3,000 hectares under cultivation with improved varieties of pepper. Farmers will be given a subsidy of Rs.20,000 a hectare to establish new pepper gardens. As many as 30 nurseries are to be established to produce 15 lakh rooted pepper cuttings.

Director of Agriculture R. Ajithkumar said 495 hectares of pepper gardens would be revitalised under the programme. The old vines would be cut down and replaced with good quality vines.

Pepper production in Kerala is marked by low productivity. Though the crop is grown in over 1.71 lakh hectares in the State, production is less than 20,000 tonnes. Karnataka produces the same quantity on just 20,000 hectares. The average yield of pepper in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam is three to five times that in Kerala. The main reason for the poor productivity of pepper in Kerala is that most of the vines are too old and infested with pests and diseases.

One of the highlights of the programme is the promotion of homestead cultivation of bush pepper. “There is very limited scope for bringing more area under pepper cultivation. Bush pepper can be grown as an ornamental plant in pots or bags.

Easy to manage and harvest, it provides an additional income for households”, says Mr. Ajithkumar.

The scheme envisages the establishment of good quality progeny orchards at 11 department farms to produce nutmeg grafts for distribution to farmers. Clove seedlings will also be supplied under the programme.

Productivity improvement of organic turmeric and ginger is another part of the scheme.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/spices-production-to-get-a-boost/article6282730.ece

As food processing potential increases, US imports turmeric from India

Due to its medicinal properties, turmeric is finding huge potential in the processed food industries of the United States, and importing larger quantities from India, the largest producer of the spice.

According to data by the United Nations, the import of turmeric in the US has tripled from 2008, and the majority of it is from India. The demand for turmeric has increased due to the realisation of nutritional and medicinal values of this humble spice.

According to reports India’s Spice Board (headquartered in Kochi), the worldwide export of turmeric from India has increased to 60 per cent from 2008.

The US has already started a wide range of research about nutritional and medicinal properties of turmeric. The spice is used to cure such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, Crohn’s disease and even depression.

Though turmeric is imported from India, they also plan to cultivate this spice on their land to reach the domestic demand. “The market for turmeric-based supplements in the US has grown by almost 31 per cent to $108 million,” revealed a recent study by Nutrition Business Journal.

The spice has been termed a super-food in the US processed food market, and a number of companies are now offering products containing turmeric. These are poised to increase in future.

The demand for turmeric supplements is higher in the US beverage sector. Turmeric juice and other food supplements are being increasingly sold in the US market.

The Spice Board of India has identified a huge demand from the Middle-East as well. This would be beneficial to turmeric farmers across India.

An official from the Trade Information Service Department of the Spice Board, said, “The demand for turmeric has increased of late, and we are able to export a better quality of it to these countries.”

“As the demand is increasing in the US, they have plans to grow their own turmeric to meet the domestic demand,” he added. The official said, “Only if India can supply high-quality spices consistently, we can stay in the market. Though the market has good potential, only fair players can continue in the market.”

“Unlike other spices, it demands very less attention from the farmer and can fight its own diseases,” he added.

“Then it helps us to fight our diseases also. Thanks to its therapeutic qualities, the demand for turmeric is growing all over the world,” the official stated. “More than 90 per cent of curcumin, extracted from turmeric, is used to make nutraceuticals and dietary supplements” he added.

S Suresh, assistant director, Spices Board, said, “India is the top producer of turmeric in the world. The Spice Board conducted thorough checks for Sudan and Aflotoxin contamination.”

“This ensured the quality of our spices. The various turmeric-producing states in India were able to produce enough to supply it to the US, the Middle-East, Canada, Japan and Australia,” he added.

The medicinal and nutritional qualities of turmeric, which has been used in Indian cuisine for several years, were revealed centuries ago.

Retrieved from – http://www.fnbnews.com/article/detnews.asp?articleid=35318&sectionid=45

Branded Spices gaining flavour in Indian households

India’s domestic spices market is estimated at 5.3 mn tons, with branded segment contributing 20% in value terms. This segment is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% in value terms and is expected at a CAGR of 12% to 15% in the next four to five years.

Branded spices market in India is showing a healthy growth following a shift in buying patterns of consumers observed during the past decade. Now the preference has changed to ground spices instead of whole spices- a trend more visible in urban areas, according to a new report by Rabobank titled Decoding Spices, India Emerging as a global hub for processing spices.

India’s domestic spices market is estimated at 5.3 mn tons, with branded segment contributing 20% in value terms. This segment is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% in value terms and is expected at a CAGR of 12% to 15% in the next four to five years.

Direct household consumption of spices (whole or powder) has remained constant, ranging from 3.4% to 3.6% of total food expenditure in households, however, consumption of spices in quantity terms has grown through increased expenditure on processed food products such as snacks and beverages including at home and out-of-home consumption.

Highlights
– Indian market preference for spice blends and mixes are rising.
– Organised retailers have launched private labels.
– Increased demand is observed in seasonings, oleoresins, extracts for various food and non-food applications.

Retrieved from – http://www.commodityonline.com/news/branded-spices-gaining-flavour-in-indian-households-56940-3-56941.html

Pepper coils up Alavi’s graft

 Alavi, a marginal farmer in Kalpetta, with a bush pepper plant raised using a grafting method to make the crop resistant to slow and quick wilt diseases.

Kalpetta farmer finds solution to wilt diseases

Sometimes, intuitive farmers find solutions from the ground up to crop diseases faster than scientists.

Take the case of quick wilt and slow wilt of black pepper.

Agriculture scientists are still at work to find a proper remedy to the two diseases affecting the crop in the State. But a progressive farmer here has hit on a solution.

Visit the pepper garden of Mattil Alavi here. His pepper vines are healthy and strong. He has been applying an innovative grafting technique on bush and vine pepper on his 40 cents of land for 11 years.

At a farmers’ meeting in Bangalore recently, Mr. Alavi won right recognition. The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore, selected him as one of the best farmers in the country for standardising the innovative technology and spreading the technique among other farmers in Wayanad.

When pepper vines withered in bulk in the district because of quick wilt, a friend of Mr. Alavi’s told him about the Piper colubrinum plant (Kattu Thippally in Malayalam) that resists quick and slow wilt. He then used the shrub as root stock to graft pepper vines, he says.

His success in grafting tomato and brinjal on the root stock of Solanum indicaum (Puthari chunda) helped him develop the technology.

During a visit to a horticulture exhibition in Kozhikode in 2002, he met B. Sasikumar, Principal Scientist, Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode, who encouraged the farmer to standardise the technology.

The grafted plant can come up in any type of soil, even if waterlogged, he says. The crop is protected from soil-borne diseases such as quick wilt and slow wilt and they have high vigour and give good yield, he adds.

The bush pepper, suitable to cultivate in pots, produces black gold round the year. A four-year-old plant can give a yield of 4 kg a year, Mr. Alavi says. “I have passed on the technology to hundreds of farmers, students and agriculture scientists who have visited my farm and gave saplings of Piper colubrinum to them free,” he says.

Grafting is 100 per cent successful in the case of bush pepper plants, he says. The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here has selected Mr. Alavi to multiply nearly 20 of its traditional pepper germplasm collection.

Farmers may call him on 9645 339156

Reference – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/pepper-coils-up-alavis-graft/article5383064.ece

Build brand NE, say experts

Build brand Northeast with the inherent strengths of the region is what speakers highlighted at a Northeast marketing conclave here today.

The focus of the Ficci-organised conclave, Remark, was to help the region attract investors and ensure that local goods and services are able to compete in the domestic and international markets.

The chief operating officer (COO) of Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd, Prabir Banerjea, said the Northeast should create a regional identity with some common factors to build brand Northeast. The identity can be based on four attributes found in the region — natural, fresh, traditional and wild & unexplored.

He said multinationals were attracting consumers with local flavours and it was imperative that the region built on its inherent strengths.

“The region has the potential to become largest producer of organic and naturally-grown horticulture and spice products,” he said.

In spices, it can become a supplier of high value spices to processors, whereas in fruits, it can supply fruits like passion fruit, pineapple, strawberry and kiwi to various markets. In flowers, it can target the metro market and create a retail chain.

He said consumers/customers were increasingly looking at hygiene and convenience and private label brands were becoming the order of the day in modern trade.

Assam health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was the chief guest at the conclave, said marketing should be based on honesty. “There should be a honest admission of facts,” he said.

Referring to Kaziranga, which is a big craze for tourists, he said the authorities should tell the tourists what they could expect and not go over board.

“If you consider human development index, Assam comes in 16th position but what it does not say is that it comes third when one considers last three years and not the entire period after Independence. Even when considering the drop in maternal mortality rate, Assam will have beaten Gujarat when we look at the last three years. Comparisons should be done amongst equals and it should be taken into account that some of them are not historically in an advantageous position,” Sarma said, adding that social campaigns should be backed by ground reality.

Other speakers stressed that the Northeast needed to make right choices in chalking out an effective strategy to market itself.

Though it has many unique goods and products, there seems to be a lacuna in marketing them in national and international markets, the speakers said.

Bejon Misra, a consumer policy expert, said during a panel discussion on opportunities and issues of direct selling that promises made to a consumer must be delivered in the manner he or she wanted.

“The key expectations of the consumers are accountability, transparency, standard, information, non-discrimination, a good redressal mechanism and service with a smile,” he added.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1130830/jsp/northeast/story_17288254.jsp#.UiAlgNIqdsk