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India — The Land of Spices

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Rajkumar cmi
India — The Land of Spices

India has been known as the land of spices since ancient times. With its varied climatic conditions and terrain, India has been producing a wide variety of spices that are native to the region. Spices have always been an integral part of Indian cuisine and culture. Though globalization has increased the supply and reach of spices worldwide, India still remains one of the largest producers, consumers and exporters of various spices.

History of Spices in India

The Indian spice trade with other regions dates back to ancient times when merchants traded spices through established sea and land routes. Indians understood the preservation and medicinal properties of native spices very early on. Spices like turmeric, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander and cloves were extensively used in Ayurveda for their therapeutic properties. Indian traders established extensive maritime contacts to tap the lucrative spice trade market of Europe and Middle-East. Spice routes connecting India to Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions made Indian merchants prosperous during the Mughal period. The Portuguese adventurers voyage to India marked the beginning of European colonialism in many Indian coastal states driven by their quest to monopolize the Indian spice trade.

Varieties of Major Indian Spices

Some of the major spices that are uniquely native to India include:

Turmeric (Haldi) - Native to South India, turmeric has bright orange rhizomes with a warm, bitter and slightly peppery flavor. It is a staple ingredient in most Indian dishes that provides both color and medicinal properties. India produces about 800,000 tons of turmeric annually, contributing about 60% to the global supply.

Chilies (Mirch) - Originally from South America, chilies were introduced in India by the Portuguese in the 16th century but have become an integral part of Indian cooking. India produces around 1 million tons of chilies every year. Some popular Indian chili varieties include Byadagi and Guntur chilies from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh respectively.

Coriander (Dhania) - Coriander is cultivated throughout North India as an annual herb. Its tiny green leaves and dried seeds are essential in many Indian spice mixes. India produces around 250,000 tons of coriander annually.

Cumin (Jeera) - Mostly grown in Rajasthan, cumin is one of the chief spices in Indian cuisine. It has an earthy, nutty and warm flavor. Indian cumin production is estimated at around 300,000 tons annually.

Pepper (Kalimirch) - The Malabar region in Kerala is the world's largest producer of black pepper, producing over 75,000 tons annually. Indian black pepper is renowned for its characteristic flavor and aromatic notes.

Cardamom (Elaichi) - The small Himalayan state of Sikkim is the largest producer of large-seed variety of green cardamom in the world with an annual production of over 20,000 tons.

Major Spice Exports from India

India has been consistently among the top five exporters of spices in the world, earning valuable foreign exchange. Here are some key facts about major Indian spice exports:

- India exports over 7,00,000 tons of spices annually valued at around $3.5 billion.

- Top exported Indian spices include chili, turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, cardamom and cloves.

- Major export destinations are the USA, European nations like Germany, UK, Netherlands, Middle-Eastern countries and Bangladesh.

- The branded basmati rice segment is expanding fast with India exporting over 4,00,000 tons of basmati rice annually valued at more than $4 billion.

- States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have a substantial share in spice exports earning foreign exchange for the country.

Challenges and Initiatives

However, Indian spice sector faces some key challenges like fragmentation of landholdings, lack of cold storage facilities during harvesting, supply chain bottlenecks and quality consistency issues. The Spices Board of India is working to address these challenges through contract farming models, focus on value addition, establishing agri export zones, promotion at global trade expos and implementation of quality standards. The recent Plant Quarantine Order ensures pesticide residue compliant Indian spices penetrate more markets. Overall, with its diverse agro-climatic conditions and dominance in global spice production, India is set to consolidate its leadership in meeting the growing worldwide demand for spices.

To conclude, Indian spices have contributed immensely to Indian food heritage, culture and economy over centuries. While global tastes are evolving, traditional Indian spices with their myriad flavors and provenance will continue delighting palates world over. With sustainable production practices and innovations in processing, India is destined to enhance its dominance in the multi-billion dollar global spices market for years to come and emerge as a reliable exporting partner.

 

Get more insights on this topic: https://www.ukwebwire.com/india-spices-a-gift-to-the-world/

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