Gangtok : Traditional spice growers across Sikkim got their first-ever chance to interact face-to-face with a country-wide array of exporters, as a Buyer-Seller Meet (BSM) came up here with proposals to iron out hiccups in the age-old business practices of spices and expand their network.
The pioneering BSM organised by Spices Board saw around 60 stakeholders on their supply capabilities and market requirements along with discussing measures towards conformity with international quality standards and securing them authentic certification of being ‘organic’ while competing in the global market.
Deliberations between progressive farmers, producer societies, agriculture entrepreneurs, service providers, local dealers and exporters churned up prospective transactions of about18 metric tonnes of spices, which are expected to be materialized soon. This would mean potential business worth about Rs 200 lakhs, a chunk of it being large cardamom which is largely endemic to this tiny Himalayan state, top Spices Board officials revealed.
The historic BSM will act as a trigger to more such deals in Sikkim, said Dr A Jayathilak, IAS, Chairman, Spices Board, who was here to attend the digital launch of ‘Sikkim Organic’ logo by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, which was conceptualised and designed by the Spices Board. “This is a step big enough to turn a new chapter in India for trade in organic spices. We have set the ball rolling,” he added.
S Kannan, Director (Marketing), Spices Board, who gave an introductory speech at the BSM, told the participants about the objective of BSM and ways to promote direct export of spices grown in Sikkim.
In the process of promoting production and marketing, the possible interventions required from the Board shall be done to the badi elaichi farmers who have been rewarded with a six-fold rise in prices over the past five years owing to Spices Board’s facilitation of fortnightly auctions at Singtham in the state.
The buyers discussed at length the need for growers securing ‘organic’ certification to avoid the risk of rejection of the commodity by the importers abroad. A few stakeholders also wanted ‘collection centres’ to be formed in Sikkim so as to facilitate transactions in common places instead of looking for individual deals.
Santa Bir Limbo, who grows large cardamom in Heggaon of West Sikkim, said the BSM was yet another step towards curbing monopoly market for spices in Sikkim.
North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) said the BSM has given the government enterprise a chance to strengthen spices trade in Sikkim.
“We can now explore a broader market,” said Reena Kumari of NERAMAC which functions under the DoNER Ministry.
Raj Maskai, of Mumbai-based Laxmi Enterprises, said organic products have increasing demand in global market, thus adding to the relevance of the BSM here. Vivek Bharadwaj, of Kolkata’s Aricha Trading Co, stressed the need for strengthening processing units in the North-East for developing domestic as well as export markets.
Raghubir Singh, of Delhi-based International Panaacea Ltd that offers natural solutions for crops, stressed the need for intervention of government to avoid the possible supply of non-certified spices as organic spices.
B Bhaskar Goud, of ITC Spices in Guntur of Andhra Pradesh, said large cardamom has now become a very attractive crop, given its authentic organic tag in Sikkim.
Dr G Lingappa, who is Deputy Director, Spices Board region office, Sikkim, said the BSM would now be followed up with invigorating the progressive farmers to ensure that organic cultivation of spices in the Himalayan state is coupled with improved quality that matches requisite international standards. (ANI)