Spices play an important role in the Indian economy and sustainable production can immensely help in increasing farmers’ income in the country.
Moreover, focus on genetic diversity and a shift from being a supplier of raw material to a manufacturer of high-value spices-based products is the need of the hour.
These views were expressed by the scientists during the inaugural session of the 29th Annual Workshop of ICAR-All India Co-ordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Spices that began on Thursday at the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni in Solan district. The workshop is being organised by the UHF Department of Vegetable Science and over 110 scientists from 38 co-ordinating centres located in 23 states of the country are taking part in the workshop.
The four-day event will recommend location specific varieties and technologies for sustainable spices production and ensuring that the country’s spices can compete in the international market. Dr Ashwani Sharma, Head Department of Vegetable Science said spices are low volume high-value products and can be cultivated in any cropping system.
“Indian spices are considered the best in the world and around 50 per cent world spice trade takes place in India.
In future, we want to retain and take a major part of the spices trade which is expected to reach US 30-40 billion dollars by 2050.
In addition, we want to capture the market of high-value phytochemicals, of which spices are a major source, as future trade is going to be for pharma-nutraceutical companies,” he said.
He added that much of the spices in India carry pesticides and through the involvement of farmers, research organisations and the industry, this issue is being addressed so that the country can continue to supply food safe spices to the world.
UHF Vice-Chancellor HC Sharma said Himachal has a huge scope for cultivation of various high-quality spices.
He called for the need to strengthening the AICRP in order to improve the productivity and quality of spices and suggested the use of GI tags to increase the market value of the farmers produce.
Dr. Sharma also urged the scientists to utilise molecular tools for crop improvement and enhancing secondary metabolite content.