‘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

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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

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

Tea major forays into spice trade

Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited is planning to introduce a brand of spices sourced from the Northeast, including pepper from its plantations, in the national market.
Pepper being grown in a nursery inside an APPL garden.

Guwahati, July 14: Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited, the second largest tea producer in the country, is all set to launch its brand of spices.

The tea major, which has been growing other crops on its estates, is aiming big vis-à-vis spices and wants to become a national player within five years.

“The idea is to have fair price aggregation and develop market linkages with the organised sector. APPL’s vision is to become the preferred provider of agri business supply solutions in the Northeast to ultimately benefit the farmer,” Prabir Banerjea, the chief operating officer of APPL’s agri business division, told The Telegraph.

The company is growing only black pepper — the most traded spice in the world — in its gardens. Black pepper, known as the king of spices, is known for its hot, biting flavour and pungent aroma. The latest price for black pepper in India ranges from Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 per quintal. The company sources other spices from different states of the region.

“The brand names are being shortlisted and our brands could hit the market by August,” Banerjea said.

The company started growing black pepper commercially from 2007 and the yield this year was 24 metric tonnes — 20 per cent higher than last year. As on date, the company has 200 hectares under black pepper cultivation.

He said the company planned to announce the origin of the produce and their USPs across marketing channels in the organised sector, as “at present, spices from the Northeast are being sold in mandis and nobody knows where these are coming from”.

Independent nurseries have been set up in all gardens to ensure self-sufficiency in planting material and high-yielding and drought-resistant varieties have been sourced from south India.

Banerjea said single polished turmeric fingers with specified curcumin content were recently sent to Olam International — a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients — for export. “This is for the first time spices have been exported from the Northeast,” he said. The turmeric was mainly sourced from Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.

The company is also setting up a state of the art processing and packaging plant for spices and fruits aggregated from the Northeast at the North East Mega Food Park in Tihu. Construction will commence after the monsoon this year and trial production will start from the winter of 2014.

The official said the company’s entry into the spices sector in the Northeast would create national links for local produce, benefiting the farming community of the region.

Spices are high value export-oriented commodities, which play an important role in the country’s agricultural economy, as India is the principal source of spices in the global market. In the Northeast, black pepper is mainly grown in Meghalaya, which produces about 400 metric tonnes of the spice annually.

According to Spices Board, the Northeast has tremendous potential for largescale production of spices and it is anticipated that the region can create exportable surpluses at competitive prices, ensuring that the country stays on top in the international spices market.

In fact, the spices sector has been making strides in the Northeast and Spices Board has proposed an outlay of Rs 66.75 crore in the Twelfth Plan to promote the sector in the region. The Twelfth Plan focus is on development of large cardamom and other spices with respect to area expansion, irrigation and land development, mechanization, organic farming and post-harvest processing.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1130715/jsp/northeast/story_17115030.jsp#.UeN3b9Iqdsl

APPL targeting organic tea market

Eyeing European markets for export and tying up with large format retail stores in India, Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Ltd (APPL), a Tata Enterprise, is trying to capture large part of the Rs 640-crore organic tea market in India.

“The organic tea business is growing by 15 per cent every year. For us, that is the only way to go. In the export market, we are targeting European countries like Germany and Japan besides US and UK,” Deepak Atal, managing director of the second largest tea producer in India, told reporters here today.

In the Indian market, they are tying up with large retail chains like Walmart, Nilgiri and Spencer”s.

“Consumers are now more health conscious than ever before and when we market it rightly with these retail chains, the scope in organic tea market is tremendous,” he said.

In 2011 their Hathikuli Tea Estate spread across 687 hectares in Assam”s Golaghat district near Kaziranga National Park was certified as organic. It was recently awarded at the Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Awards in Mumbai for protecting biodiversity.

“Initially the production fell from 8 lakh kg to 3.5 lakh kg because we were not using fertilizers to control pests. But now the production has started increasing gradually and in the next 2-3 years we will return to the 8 lakh figure,” Atal said.

For marketing in the European market, the tea estate is also in the process of being certified as a Rain-forest Alliance (RA) for its eco-friendly practices.

From the last one year, their two other tea estates in Assam – Diffloo and Teok – have been using only bio- fertilizers.

“But there has been no drop in yield. So from next year we will extend bio-fertilizers to all estates in a phased manner. It will reduce the chemical load on soil and increase its productivity and health in the long term,” the official said.

At present, APPL has 21 tea gardens in Assam and 4 in West Bengal.

Along with tea, they have been growing spices like pepper, ginger, turmeric, etc as multi-crop plantation.

“We are now installing a food processing unit near Guwahati for our agri-business. Some of these products will be sold as our brands while others will be sold to the large retail chains,” Atal said.

Retrieved from – http://news.in.msn.com/business/article.aspx?cp-documentid=251604632

 

Spices export cross $2 bn in 2011-12 fiscal

India’s spices exports rose by 36 per cent to $2.04 billion in value terms in 2011-12 fiscal on account of increase in value realisation of spices, especially chilli and pepper.

In the previous fiscal, the country had earned foreign exchange of $1.5 billion from spices exports, according to the latest data released by the Spices Board of India.

The volume of shipments in the last fiscal rose by almost 10 per cent to 5.75 lakh tonnes from 5.25 lakh tonnes in the 2010-11 financial year.

The earnings from export of spices in rupee terms rose by 43 per cent to Rs 9,783.42 crore in 2011-12 fiscal as against Rs 6,840.70 crore in the year-ago period.

The Spices Board had set a target of earning forex revenue of Rs 6,500 crore ($1.45 billion) with a volume of 5 lakh tonnes in the last fiscal from export of spices.

Spices export earnings rose mainly on the back of increased realisation from mint products, chilli, pepper and spice oils & oleoresins.

The export value of mint products rose by 31 per cent to Rs 2,223.72 crore in 2011-12 fiscal from Rs 1,696.79 crore in the 2010-11 fiscal, despite a decline of 15 per cent in its volume to 14,750 tonnes from 17,450 tonnes in the same period.

The unit value of mint produced rose to Rs 1,507.61 per kg last fiscal from Rs 972 per kg in 2010-11 fiscal.

In the case of chilli, export earnings rose by 40 per cent to Rs 2,144.08 crore last fiscal from Rs 1,535.54 crore in the year-ago period. There was a marginal increase in the volumes to 2.41 lakh tonnes from 2.40 lakh tonnes in the reviewed period.

Similarly, unit value of chilli increased to Rs 88.97 per kg as 2011-12 against Rs 63.98 per kg in 2010-11.

The earnings from export of spice oils & oleoresins rose by 43 per cent to Rs 1,304.38 crore in 2011-12 compared to Rs 910.62 crore in 2010-11, while volumes declined by 4 per cent to 7,265 tonnes from 7,600 tonnes in the same period.

The unit value of spice oils & oleoresins, used in food and cosmetics, rose to Rs 1,795.43 per kg in 2011-12 from Rs 1,198.19 per kg in 2010-11.

Pepper export earnings rose by a whopping 129 per cent to Rs 878.13 crore in the last fiscal from Rs 383.18 crore in the year-ago period, while volume of shipments rose by 42 per cent to 26,700 tonnes from 18,850 tonnes in the same period.

The unit value of pepper rose to Rs 328.89 per kg in 2011-12 as against Rs 203.28 per kg in 2010-11.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/article3591441.ece