Chilli, coriander, cumin and turmeric: the spices in which SAN focus its work in India

 
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Last July, the SAN and Nestlé started a program to work together, for the next two years, on the development of a sustainability system to improve the responsible source of spices in India; but, what are those spices, what are the characteristics of their production and the sustainability challenges they face?

The SAN-Nestlé Spices Responsible Sourcing Partnership will result, by December 2020, in a fully operating responsible sourcing program which includes assessment, verification and implementation of best practices.

The work are initially focused on improving sustainability in the chilli, coriander, turmeric and cumin supply chains. You can learn more about the characteristics of these crops in the profiles we have prepared.

Chilli

Chilli is one of the most important commercial crops of India. India is the largest producer and consumer of chilli in the world. India contributes 36 per cent to total world’s production and remained in first position in terms of international trade by exporting nearly 30 per cent from its total production. Indian chilli is mainly exported to Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and U.A.E.

The initial sustainability challenges identified are:

  • Erratic climatic conditions

  • Increasing disease pressure as viral diseases, powdery mildew and anthracnose

  • Pesticide residual effects and aflatoxin presence

  • Infrastructure for post-harvest technologies

  • Uncertainty in farmer produce prices

 
 

Coriander

Coriander is an important spice crop having a prime position in flavoring food. The plant is a thin stemmed, small, bushy herb, 25 to 50 cm in height with many branches and umbels. Leaves are alternate, compound. The whole plant has a pleasant aroma. It is an important ingredient in the manufacture of food flavourings, in bakery products, meat products, soda & syrups, puddings, candy preserves, liquors and medicines.

The initial sustainability challenges identified are:

  • Erratic climatic conditions

  • Lack of Labs for soil testing

  • Inadequate nutrient management, pest and disease management

  • Inherent poor production capacity

  • Uncertainty in Farmer Produce Prices

  • Lack of adequate infrastructure facilities including post-harvest management and processing facilities

 
 

Cumin

Also known as jeera/zeera or comino, is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper. It is very pungent and aromatic, and is used whole and/or ground. Though cumin is a native of Egypt, it now mostly produced in India, being the largest producer of cumin in the world. Cumin's aromatic, nutty-flavored seeds come in three colors: amber (the most widely available), white and black (both found in Asian markets).

The initial sustainability challenges identified are:

  • Need for better quality seed, varieties and inputs

  • Lack of labs for soil testing

  • Unsolved chronic maladies of wilt and blight

  • Lack of suitable variety adapted to wide range of soil and climatic condition

  • Inherent poor production capacity

  • Shallow root system

  • High sensitive to soil and climate

  • Small seeds with low viability and vitality

 
 

Turmeric

Turmeric is the boiled, dried, cleaned and polished rhizomes of Curcuma a herbaceous plant. India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Indian turmeric is considered to be the best in the world market because of its high curcumin content. India accounts for about 80% of world turmeric production and 60% of world exports, with USA importing 97% Turmeric requirement from India.

The initial sustainability challenges identified are:

  • Fragmented land holdings which restricts the scale of economics in cultivation

  • Agriculture is influenced by vagaries of nature

  • Shortage of labor

  • High production cost due to high cost of labor and inputs

  • Non availability of adequate quantity of quality planting materials

  • Inadequate nutrient management, pest and disease management

  • Lack of adequate infrastructure facilities including post-harvest management and processing facilities

  • No assured price for farm produce and the price of produce are decided by middlemen most of the time.

 
 
Nancy De Lemos