Previous WSC's

About 1998 World Spice Congress


The 4th World Spice Congress was held during 23-25 January, 1998 at Taj Coromandal, Chennai. The Congress was organised jointly by the Spices Board and the All India Spices Exporters' Forum. The previous congresses were held at Bangalore in 1990, at Goa in 1992 and at Cochin in 1995. The theme of this Congress was NEW HORIZONS CHALLENGES AHEAD. 121 international delegates attended the Congress from 34 countries and 210 Indian delegates.

Inaugural Function

The Congress was inaugurated by Dr. M S Swaminathan, internationally renowned agricultural scientist cit a function chaired by Mr. D P Baghi, Financial Adviser and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India on 23rd January, 1998. In his presidential address Mr. Baghi urged the necessity to take into consideration the interest of the primary producers by ensuring remunerative price for sustainable supply of quality spices. He observed that the increasing acceptance of Indian spices by the developed countries where the quality standards are most stringent is an eloquent tribute to the efforts India has mode to upgrade the quality right from farm to port.

In his inaugural address Dr. M. S. Swaminathan brought to light that with the coming into force of the World Trade Agreement and consequent lowering of tariff and reduction of subsidies, the opportunities for Indian agricultural exports including spices will increase manifold. He visualised that India has the capability to take all the steps to follow sanitary and phytosanitary measures and accelerate agricultural exports. According to hi M, enforcement of sanitary measures for domestic consumption is equally important as for export.

Dr. Swaminathan stressed the need for continued efforts to make India the world leader in the production and export of block pepper, cardamom, ginger and turmeric. Crops like vanilla, paprika, herbal spices and pimento that are comparatively new to India offer scope for widespread cultivation in the country. He suggested for the identification of compact areas for establishing organic spice estates. India should aim at increasing export trade to at least one billion U S dollars for which more and better quality spices in India and the world should be our motto.

Mr. V. Jayashankar, Chairman, Spices Board welcomed the gathering. He recalled that Indian spice industry, time and again, has not only administered its ability to stand up to the changes and face new challenges, but also to bring about new changes for its betterment.

Mr. George Paul proposed a vote of thanks. Chairman. All India Spices Exporters' Forum, Cochin.

Business Session

Business Sessions were held on 24th and 25th January 1998. The Session started with a keynote address by Mr. M R Sivaraman, Executive Director, International Monetary Fund. He visualised that the participants being international traders would appreciate that the world trade whether it be in spices, air craft, chemicals or any other commodity depends upon the confidence of the exporting community and the depositors of the banks and financial institutions working within the framework of well established lows and rules. There should be transparency in banking transactions and governments should create a system based on regulatory mechanisms to solve disputes amongst private parties, and between private parties and governments. According to him, exporters of spices should also pay attention in raising productivity, improving quality and in introducing efficiency in processing of spices. As availability of spices is bound by seasons there should be good storage and warehousing facilities at appropriate places for continued and uninterrupted delivery of quality spices to the world market.

The theme of the Congress was discussed in three Sessions namely New Horizons Peppers, New Horizons Seeds and Herbs and Challenges Ahead.

There was a special session on International Pepper Exchange. A talk on 'The HACCP takes away the microbial burden from spices' was given by Prof. Schur, Schur in Process, GmbH & Co., KG, Sophlenstrasse 21, D-41065, Monchougladback, Germany. He explained that an extract patented by his company, prepared out of certain, spices and herbs could reduce the microbial load in agricultural produce including spices. According to him the process does not leave any harmful residues.

Plenary Session

The Plenary Session was presided over by Mr.V. Jayashankar, Chairman, Spices Board. The salient points, which came out of the Business Session, were discussed. It was concluded that India should continue to supply quality spices at competitive prices to the international market.

It was decided in a group meeting attended by the representatives of ASTA, ESA, ANSA, AISEF and Spices Board after the plenary session that an international federation of spice trade associations should be formed to address common issues on quality in spice industry.


An exhibition with the participation of major exporters and R & D institutions was conducted simultaneously. There were altogether 27 participants including Spices Board. The exhibition displayed the wealth of spices and their products besides quality improvements made in the Spice industry.

Cultural Programmes and Sight Seeing

A variety entertainment programme highlighting cultural programmes of Tamil Nadu, the Venue State was organised in the evening of 23rd January. On the second day, spouses of delegates went on a city tour including visit to the MGR Film City. Spouses and interested delegates were taken to Mahabalipurarn on the lost day of the Congress.

Summary of Presentations & Discussions


? What made pepper prices drop so steep and quickly. What made it go up again?

Mr. Hun Herweijer

A. The effect is due to the action of bull and bear factors and speculators 'in pepper market. Lack of buyers coupled with more sellers is the reason for pulling down prices. Similarly when the supply is less, the price tends to go up. Basically, this is due to demand and supply forces.

Mr. MKK Menon

Q In India, some farmers boil turmeric fingers and dry it but some farmers dry the green turmeric as such. Which quality of the above is better for curcumin extraction qualitatively and quantitatively?

Mr.A P K Padmanabhon

A. Boiling is done to accelerate drying as well as to impart uniform colour to the turmeric fingers. There is no change in the curcumin content, whether it is boiled or not.

Mr. George Paul

Dr. CK George

Q Who is responsible for providing the safety data report? Can the organisations like the spice trade associations form a panel and conduct an in-depth study. This will help the growers and producers.

Mr. KM Harish

A. Essentially each country should have a single point of contact preferably the body representing the exporters of the country who could furnish the data.

Mr. Bruce Henry

Q Dichlro methane and EDC have similar properties as solvents, why is that EDC is not considered?

Mr. KM Harish

A. Dichlro methane is the commonly used solvent in Europe and EDC is not being used.

Mr. Edward Show

Q How stable are natural colours? In South Africa with intense sunshine most of these colours have problems.

Dr. W A Parsons

A. Natural colours - The term covers a wide range of different chemicals. Hence, the question has to relate to individual colours and each chemical group of colours. Some colours are more stable - synthetic colours. Natural colours are less stable. If you take chilli as an example, the pod is exposed to sunshine for considerable duration but the colour is stable. To retain colour, stabilization is needed and appropriate technology is necessary.

Mr. Bruce Henry

Q In which part of India does Bird's eye chilli grow?

Mr. A. Chatoor

A. Bird's eye chilli is grown in the hilly region of North and South India.

Mr., AP Murugan

Q What is the simplest and most effective way to avoid aflatoxins at (a) farm level and (b) trade levels?

Mr. K.S. Swani

A. It is difficult to give an exact answer. At farm level, if the floor is not wet, or when polythene sheets are used and drying is done immediately after harvesting, incidence of aflatoxin can be avoided. At trade levels, the product must be dried properly and stored to avoid this problem. Then products should be dried as early as possible.

A. Aflatoxin is due to the secondary infestation from the fungus. In order to avoid this, rapid drying, reducing the time taken for normal drying is recommended. Pest attack of pods should be avoided as it may lead to fungal infestation. While harvesting, pods affected by insects may be collected separately and destroyed. Evolving varieties of chillies resistant to aspergillus sp. which is responsible for infestation aflatoxin, may be taken up by the research institutes.

A At the time of drying, care should be taken to reduce the level of moisture to 10 to 11%. To accomplish this, pre-harvest and post-harvest handling should be done on a scientific manner and the farmers should be trained on these aspects.

A Infestation con be caused due to improper storage of the produce also. Hence, proper drying and storage are important for preventing the attack of aspergillus sp. Keeping of chillies in cold storage can avoid fungal infestation. Once the produce is affected by aflatoxin, there is no method to remove the infestation. Hence, care should be taken to avoid it. While transporting the produce, care should be taken to avoid moisture absorption and breaking of pods.

Mr. AP Murugan
Mr. M S A Kumar
Dr. CR Sivadasan
Dr. CK George

Q Could you let us know the colour values of S-4/Mundu/Bird eyes/other kinds approximately? Which would give us the most red colour, when ground?

Mr. Kishore Advani

A S4 chilli when directly extracted has 10,000 to 20,000 colour units. The cherry type chillies are called mundu variety. It gives approximately. 10,000 colour units. The colour units for Bird's eye chilli ranges from 2,000 to 3,000. The chilli that gives most red colour when ground is a variety from Karnataka, Byadagi.

Mr. AP Murugan

Q If you were a European or USA buyer of black pepper, and knowing about the present pepper market, would you be an aggressive buyer today or wait for lower levels later In 1998?


A. The purpose of my presentation is not to give advice as to when pepper should be bought. The presentation is an attempt focussing on what is the pepper scenario. Basically, one has to take one's own decision. One has to evaluate the bull factors and the bear factors and take own decision. Regarding the point as to when to buy and at what price, prices can fluctuate based on various factors and situations, which need to be evaluated before making a decision. As regards current Indian pepper price, it is going up and once harvesting is over, then there will be pressure on prices of Indian pepper. India operates a Futures Exchange for pepper, which has become an international exchange. There is a separate presentation on the Exchange. This offers a good system for fledging your future purchase when prices are rising. When purchases are to be mode for future shipment, one has to be sure about the seller and his reliability to perform the contract rather than the ups and downs of the price. When executing a contract, one has to make sure of the delivery.

Mr. M K K Menon

Q What does the average farmer of pepper (black) receive for his crop? Glow is pepper and other spices taxed?


A. The question should be, is the farmer getting a fair price vis-a-vis the market price and answer is the Indian farmer is getting a fair price. Two thirds of pepper that is 70 per cent of pepper is grown in Kerala and one third in Karnataka area. In Kerala, most of the farmers are small farmers. In Karnataka, the farmers are more plantations oriented who are basically coffee growers. In contrast, the Kerala farmers are cent per cent literate and read newspaper everyday morning to gather market information. With the popularity of TV in the last four to five years, information is readily available to the farmers. There is no much price difference between the market in the producing area and the terminal market. In other countries, it is reported that there is a wide gap between the two. Exports from India are not taxed. The tax on pepper and other spices varies from State to State, in Kerala, it is around seven per cent. In northern States, it is taxed more heavily.

Mr. M K K Menon

Q To what extent could cooperatives help small holders to improve on post harvesting treatment such as drying and storage?

Mr. K D Protzen

A Spices Board is implementing various programmes and schemes to improve the post harvest management of spices and these programmes are implemented through the Cooperatives and NG0s across the country.

Mr. S M Acharya

Q I am a buyer from the UK. The sellers do not perform especially on ground spice. Mixing is done. Can such suppliers be brought to book and not allowed to export? The Board should take action to protect the name of India and interest of buyers.


A. When contracts are not maintained for spices, Spices Board could be approached. For other Items, Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) could be approached. For finding solutions to such problems, DGFT has brought out a booklet in which procedures have been laid down to simplify the process of complaint and the Indian exporter who fails to meet the specifications laid down by the importer could be brought to book.

Mr. S M Acharya

Q Can we look at bringing in technology to take care of bacteria, Salmonella, Ecoli, and Aflatoxin to meet standards of the US & EUROPE.

Mr. Idris Attannrala

A. Yes, we could, but we have to work very hard for it.

Mr. S M Acharya

Q. Why is there a significant disparity in the yield or block pepper per acre as compared to other countries? Are there any measures being taken to increase the yield of black pepper?

Mr. John Bashian

A In connection with pepper productivity, mention has been made that the India's overall yield per ha is very low compared to that of Malaysia and other countries. Pepper from other countries, if I am correct is from monoculture, whereas in India most of the pepper is grown in between other crops. Hence per ha comparison may not give a correct picture. It would be better to compare yield per vine instead of yield per ha.

Mr. A S Muthanna

Q In my opinion, humidity of the surrounding air and the surface where chilli is dried are causing mould/fungal growth contributing to Aflatoxin. Moisture cannot be the only parameter for Aflatoxin - please comment on this.

Mr. Krishna V Routhu

A Environment should be moisture free for ensuring proper storage besides drying done on clean surface to avoid mould formation.

Q Is there a recognised agency within the country to certify soil and the products grown on it as organic and is this agency's certification accepted internationally.

Mr. Santosh Mani

A At present, there is no internationally recognised local agency to certify. Such an agency is yet to be established.

Dr. C K George

Q Is there a premium for organic spices in the international market?

Mr. Pradeep Jaipuria

A Yes. There is a premium of 10 to 15 per cent for organic spices put on the shelf of the supermarket. However, consistency in supply has to be ensured.

Mr. Edward Shaw
According to Mr. K S Swani low productivity of seed spices is the main constraint in the export front. Though India is the largest producer and exporter of seed spices, in volume terms export are only 10% of the total production. He stressed the need for developing high yielding and disease resistant varieties by research for sustainable export surplus and to ensure steady supply in the international market at competitive prices.

The current consumption level of spices including cumin, fennel and fenugreek in Japan is nearly 40,000 tonnes as viewed by Mr. Koboyashi. He informed that the eating habit in his country is changing and there is likely to have higher demand for spices especially herbs for culinary purpose.

He stated that the consumption of spices in Japan is showing an upward trend. He appreciated Mr. Nonneman and Mr. Bajaj for their informative papers on seed spices and herbs.

Mr. Roger Ormandy stated that productivity and quality are the two important factors as for as spices are concerned. We should give thrust to organically produced seed spices and herbs to eliminate chemical residues, which are hazardous to human life. He also informed that the demand for ethnic food is increasing in Europe. The functional ingredient in the food seasonings is tend to be more and more herbs which shows the importance of herbal spices. Similarly the use of spice oils and oleoresins in the food industry is showing an upward trend.

In the interaction Mr. Sasi Menon informed that India has a wide range of Agro-climatic conditions and there is a great potential for growing various spices and herbs. Cultivation of herbal spices is new in India and hence technology is needed to improve their productivity and cultivation practices. It is better to think the organic method of cultivation. Technology has to be developed for processing of herbs since Asian consumption including India is very less. We have to explore the potential for growing and processing of herbs for exports.

With regard to support to seed spices Mr. H P Singh said that the Agriculture Ministry, Govt. of India had already given emphasis for increasing their productivity since the last five years and these activities will be continued in the coming years also. A separate National Research Centre for seed spices will be set up in Rajasthan to look after the research needs of seed spices. The focus of this station will be to make available high yielding, disease resistant seed materials to farmers.


Q Aflatoxin is reported in black pepper. Any cases of aflatoxin reported from seed spices? If yes, which are the seed spices, which are affected by afiatoxin?
(Mr. Kishor Advani)

A No major incidences of aflatoxin are reported from seed spices. But if coriander is not dried properly after harvest, there are chances that aflatoxin may occur in it.
Mr. K S Bajaj
Mr. K S Swani

Q A. lot is being emphasised about retaining colour, odour, flavour pungency taste etc. of spices. (a) What is the effect of temperature/heat rise during grinding on these vital factors? (b) What is the permissible temperature for grinding chillies, coriander etc

A In France they use cryogenic grinding, i.e. Grinding at -60 deg C to retain flavour, taste etc. Hence the question of temperature rise does not arise here.
Mr. Jean Marie Shouvey

A It is better to have always reduced temperature during grinding of spices to retain their quality and flavour. Temperature plays an important role in grinding spices. The temperature range for grinding in South Africa is between -2 & 4 deg C.
Dr W A Parsons

A. The non-cryogenic grinding, methods will generally destroy volatile oil and other quality factors. But if non-cryogenic grinding is the practice in India since past few years and if the produce is acceptable to the buyers, there will not be any question or rejection due to the loss of essential flavouring agents.
Dr W A. Parsons

Q What percentage of spice blends are used in powder form and what percentage in paste form in South Africa (Mr. Krishnan Kutty)

A. The powder form of spices meets the demand of 60% and oleoresins and spice emulsions the next 40%. South Africans like to add ground spices and herbs in their foods.
Dr. W. A Parsons

Q. Which are the main growing areas of finest quality cumin and coriander in India?
Mr. Edward Shaw

A. Rajasthan is the major area where good quality coriander and cumin is available.
Mr. K S Bajaj

Q. Is pimento available in India? If yes, where is it available?

A. Seed, of pimento are available in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and seedlings are available with Indian Institute of Spices Research, Calicut
Dr K V Peter

A On a suggestion to develop spices in Punjab Mr. H P Singh, Horticulture Commissioner informed that emphasis has already been given for development of seed spices in Punjab during IX Plan period.
He explained the experience of organic cassia production of 200 tonnes working with former in Indonesia maintaining ecology and environment.

During the panel discussion Mr. Martin Muggeridge, Mr. Sven Bentigen and Mr. M.S. A. Kumar further elaborated on the issues raised by the main speakers and emphasised the need for having further fruitful discussions between the producing countries and consuming countries. Mr. Kumar suggested naming a body, which would do the necessary research work needed to establish maximum residue levels especially for pesticides.

Taking part in the panel discussion Mr.Martin Muggeridge recalled the effective cooperation existing among Spices Board, ASTA and ESA in sorting out quality problems of spices. He mentioned that the quality of spices from India has improved a lot during the last decade and the European buyers prefer the purchase from those processing units, which are maintaining hygiene and the sanitary level matching equaling Codex regulations. He observed that then, exist subtle differences on the quality demanded by various buying countries quoting the examples of turmeric and ginger. The real challenges facing us are, the level of microbial load, aflatoxin, pesticide residue and heavy metals and also analytical methods to determine the levels.

Narrating the maximum tolerance levels of the microbial load he recalled the incidence of the product of his own company, which was detained a month ago. Since Methyl bromide is not allowed in Europe, heat sterilisation can be used. Aflatoxin is found only in a few spices and it con be easily sorted out provided proper drying is done immediately after harvest. Regarding pesticide residues, his view was that spices and herbs need not be concerned with them but the existing regulations are very stringent. So the industry has to use the forum of Codex Alimentarius Commission to work out maximum tolerance limits for spices.

Mr. Sven Bentingen also recalled the cooperation of ESA and EU in working out common standards for spices. He commented that the World Spice Congress is an essential step to further a united activity in global spice trade. He requested the food industry to replace the synthetics with natural products. He observed that there is an increase of 25 per cent in the use of spices in Sweden and there is good potential for organically produced spices.

On the changing food safety lows of USA, Europe, Japan etc; Mr. M S A Kumar commented that many of the conditions common stipulated seem unreasonable and unrealistic. India has been taking efforts to control quality at the producer's level itself and it has paid rich dividends. While commenting on the backward integration of spice processing with the producers he desired that regulations on contract farming be framed in India so that a regular supply can be ensured even at fluctuating price situations. He hoped that India con very well meet the increasing needs of organically grown spices. With regard to the detention of spices by FDA on account of pesticides residues, he observed that many of them were made because of the absence of prescribed limits in US regulations and not essentially because of safety concerns. This appears to be unfair. He wished that the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Central Insecticide Board of India worked out MRLs for various crop/pesticide combinations from actual field data so that the national regulation on pesticide would shield the interests of the Indian exports. He also argued to take into consideration the actual quantity of spices consumed and also the way in which it is utilised before working out the pesticide MRLs for different spices.


Q. Whether the ASTA specifications are more stricter than the FDA specifications? What are the needs, which an Indian exporter of fennel should look into?

A. ASTA specifications are concerned with the cleanliness of the product and refer mainly to insects, excreta mammalian, and mould infestation, insect defiled and extraneous matter. The ASTA specifications match with FDA specifications in almost all cases, but the case of fennel is exceptional. FDA insists that no more than two sub samples out of 10 should exceed the excreta limits. The contract is between the buyer and the seller and therefore the ASTA specifications are more relevant in trade, but it should be noted that only the FDA specifications are legally binding.

Ms Susan Abbot

Q. What are the other pepper producing countries having problem with pesticide residues?

A. All pepper-producing countries have the problem with pesticide residues and the difference is only in the percentage of samples and also in the level of contamination. But India being the largest producer of spices and also because of organisations like Spices Board, they have taken the problems seriously. Once India succeeds in sorting out the problems; it is hoped that rest of the countries con follow suit.

Ms Susan Abbot

Q. How many years it will take to resolve this issue? Is ASTA confident that FDA will not press the limit?

A. It may take two to five years to get Codex MRLs established for various spices. There is a minimum working time required for the Codex. One cannot comment.

What action FDA would take till such time. FDA works on US regulations and once they decide to sample, nothing can prevent them from their action and if they take a sample and analyse it then they would proceed according to the law. Importers have to obey the low of the land.

Ms. Susan Abbot

Q. FDA has fixed a maximum tolerance limit of one ppm for BHC in paprika powder imported from Spain. How was it established? Is there a way to get similar standards for other spices/pesticides?

A. It was done in 1970s before United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) was established. Spanish trade represented to USFDA and they have cleared it as a special case; but today this cannot be done. Recently ASTA had taken up similar issues with USFDA and USEPA and they have made it very clear that they cannot make any such tolerance levels. To formulate such levels, a change in the existing law 'is necessary

Ms Susan Abbot

Q. Contrary to what is presented European importers are Insisting on aflatoxin limits of one to two ppms. Kindly comment.

A. There is a misunderstanding of the position and these figures relate to German specifications. The European Commission has not even taken a decision yet whether it should include spices or not and may not set any limits. However, the limit if so will be in this region. ESA is lobbying for 10 ppb being realistic.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. When it comes to Solvent extracts and oleoresins, the some limits are applied e.g. in the case of chillies, the concentration is about 33 per cent but the limits are as for whole chillies. It is unscientific. The ESA should take up this issue before Codex Alimentarius and see that this concentration effect is corrected. This is also the case with organic pesticides. They also get concentrated. So the limit should be fixed based on the consumption level.

A. To my knowledge, levels of pesticide residue in extracts and oleoresins have not even been discussed. If it is discussed ESA will lobby for similar procedure we have for fresh herbs. Consideration will be given for the loss in drying/concentration during extractions. However, we have legislation on aflatoxin in Germany and also in Holland at low levels, it remains to be seen whether we are going to leave with these low levels for spices in general.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. Certain European importers buy cheap and inferior quality pepper with a lot of admixtures like pinheads, ungarbled quality etc. How do you explain it?

A. I find it quite embarrassing. In Europe and other places, there are customers enquiring different quality products depending on what their countries are using. The ESA specification is for raising the minimum level of quality for spices as used in European industries. Let us hope that this effort will succeed within the next two years.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. There is a general feeling among the Indian exporters, who are supplying spices according to US and ESA specifications that the American trade resist to pay for the accepted quality. How can it be narrowed?

A. Well, ESA is going to raise the quality standards for Europe. When the big variations between the high quality and the low quality products are narrowed down, this question may not arise. But it should be understood that it is a case of comparison. If somebody is offering a quality product at a comparatively low price than others, then it is quite natural that the buyer would get it with the least price.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. Would hybridisation of planting material can come under this category? If so, how do you provide assistance?

A. It does not fall under this category.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. Is there legislation for pesticide residues for spices in Europe? Does it mean that countries specific standards will apply to pesticides? Why are some countries in Europe already testing for pesticides when others are not?

A. National Legislation exists in countries like The Netherlands. It will be introduced in other countries of Europe. It is difficult to completely answer right now.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. Irradiation is allowed in many European countries. Can you specify which ones? What are your views on irradiation?

A. Irradiation is allowed in all European member states except in Germany and Denmark. Tile Union has passed a law for irradiation of spices to a maximum of 10 KG. This provides labelling of produce as "lrradicated or treated with ionising irradiation ". It is the stumbling block in Europe, as consumers generally would not accept it.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. Are they having steam sterilisation facilities in Europe?

A. Yes. There are. In the UK, in Germany and in the Netherlands.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. What is the recommended packaging and cost of sterilisation?

A. Very difficult to say, because the cost varies greatly depending on several factors.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. What is the main reason for labelling as "irradiated spices"?

A. This is to give factual information to the consumers, which is very important.

Ms Vanja Johnsson

Q. Do you expect any problem if a genetically modified organism human organism consumes genetically modified food products, particularly spices?

A. It is a puzzling question to answer. The problem is with the genetically modified organism. People have some ethical problems with it. The issue of labelling is coming from the point of view of safety. Bio safety protocol has to be observed.

Prof. A Damodaran

Q. Cellophane is a packaging material, which is biodegradable and hence extremely eco-friendly. It also has moisture barrier and aroma retention characteristics. However, its tearability makes it unsuitable for packaging spices with heavy weight. I would like to have it used as a packaging material for spices. Can you comment?

A. Cellophane is developed as a biodegradable environmentally friendly packaging material. Costarican coffee is packed using cellophane packaging material and found it as the best of retail packing. Efforts are on to develop a packing material more adaptable to more robust kind of consignments and lots.

Prof. A Damodaran

Q. How long one has to wait, when the cultivation is done on fallow land?

A. You need three years.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalsa

Q. How con organic agriculture control micro contaminants?

A. Micro contamination is a problem everywhere. One cannot use fumigation in organic agriculture. Only steam sterilisation con be used. The best method is to adopt a proper technology during post harvest operations.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalsa

Q. Cardamom is being cultivated in my farm without using any fertilisers and pesticides for the lost 50 years. But my neighbour is using pesticides. What can be done about it?

A. Certification for organic agriculture is being granted to such cases after examining farm records and practices. There is a ginger farm in South India, which is situated among the rubber plantations where the possibility of cross contamination through run off and seepage exists. But practical steps have been adopted to avoid contamination.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalso

Q. Insistence on registration and certification makes organic farming costlier.

Can we eliminate the process of inspection and registration, which are under traditional agriculture?

A. Registration, inspection and certification are essential. Consumers will not buy if they are not sure of the product and they are prepared to pay for the cost inspection and certification.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalso

Q. Can we call the spices extracted through Super Critical Fluid Extraction organic?

A. Flavours extracted with the use of chemicals cannot be considered organic. Regarding this specific technology, the matter has to be looked into.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalsa

Q. Organic farming gives low yields and more disease and pest problems. Can you comment?

A. Yield depends on proper management based on scientific information. Lot of expertise is now available on organic agriculture that would sustain a high level of productivity in organic forming pests and diseases are controlled by proper crop rotation and biological means.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalsa

Q. Is steam distillation permitted under organic agriculture?

A. Yes, permitted.

Mr. Guru Jaget Singh Khalsa

Q. Does the organic farming practices affect the colour and aroma spices/herbs?

A. We believe that there is a positive effect due to organic methods as quality, which largely depends on soil conditions are improved under organic farming system. However, the final quality of the product depends greatly on post harvest operations.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalsa

Q. How organic farming prevent erosion?

A. There is several reasons. All plant refuses are put back. Clean cultivation is avoided. Selective cutting and terracing also help.

Mr. Guru Jagat Singh Khalsa


? Have you got designated warehouse for domestic exchange? If not why. Don't you think that it is important to have one?


0 At the moment for the domestic exchange we do not have designated warehouses. If the members feel to have it, we can go for it. But if we take the average deliverytaking place in the exchange, it is about two per cent of the total transactions. Most of the exporters/deliverers are situated around Jew town, Cochin, which is the main centre of the spice trade. It is a place where people in the trade know each other. More over the quality is tested by SGS, which is internationally acclaimed i. e. testing done by an internationally accepted agency, and delivery is given from approved warehouses of IPSTA.

Mr. T. Vidyasagar.

? Is there enough liquidity for people to come in for trading through the exchange.

Mr. AI Goetz

0 The liquidity in an exchange will come in when importers, exporters, intermediaries, speculators become the fulcrum of activities. When all these come together in normal course it is possible that there should be trading volumes, which is two to three times the actual production of that particular commodity. In the domestic exchange we have done more than two times of Indian production this year because of the high volatility. Whenever there is wide fluctuation in the prices people tend to hedge their requirement at a faster pace.

0 In regard to communication we are in the process of keeping Reuters, Knight Rider, Bloomberg and PTI in the exchange wherein online prices will be disseminated to almost all parts of the globe. Even now Knight Rider, Bloomberg, PTI, Dow Jones and Reuters transmit the domestic prices.

0 The size of the lot was decided as 2.5 tonnes to bring in more small players into the market so that there will be more liquidity. A grower who is having just a production of 2.5 tonnes can also come in and create liquidity. More over the risk of involvement is also limited, as the lot size is small.

0 For grading, we have already engaged SGS even in the domestic exchange as the superintending agency for quality and specification.


? What are the time parameters for futures contracts? Would it be possible to have future contracts for up to nine months?

Mr. William Wallace.

? At the moment the contract is designated with duration of six months. Six months are found enough for a commodity like pepper because of the international supply pattern. As you are aware the price change in the last 10 months was 300 per cent from last year. If you take the global supply pattern, Malabar pepper starts coming from January, Vietnam by February March, Malaysia in May, Indonesia in August-September and Brazil after September. So if we spread it to more than nine months the risk element is slightly on the higher side. So it is better to have six months to start with. Once the 6 month experience is proved success, the time can extend even to 12 months.

Mr. T.Vidyasagar.

? What will be the fee charged by the exchange for each transaction?


0 The transaction costs are very low when compared to other international exchanges. The transaction cost for a 2.5 tonnes contract is Rs.5.00 per transaction, i.e. on both sides it is Rs.10/. The clearing fee is also very small i.e. in a range of 0.05 per cent to 0.03 percent for members and maximum of 0.04 per cent of Registered non-members

The Chairman clarifying the two important comments raised concluded the session by Mr. Peter J Knight in the panel discussion. On the issue of the banks designated for foreign transaction it was clarified that the selection of bank is left to the choice of the foreign member. More over, conversion from dollar to rupee and viceversa is possible as and when required and there is no fixed lock in period. Regarding the minimum lot for tender, it is informed that the exchange is already provided that where delivery is offered, the minimum quality to be offered from each designated warehouse will be 15 tonnes ie., one container load and it will ease the burden of buying different lots of 2.5 tonnes from different ports.

Conclusions &Recommendations

Plenary Session was presided over by Mr., V. Jayashankar, Chairman, Spices Board. Chairman of the Business Session, Mr. Ramkumar Menon; All India Spices Exporters Forum Chairman Mr. George Paul and Executive Director of the Spices Board, Dr. C K George were present on the dais.

After the introductory remarks by Mr. V. Jayashankar, Chairman, Spices Board, Dr. C K George, Executive Director presented a brief report of various sessions. It was concluded that India has the capability to increase production substantially of the spices required for the world market and to supply them as per the international standards. The new challenges in quality due to the introduction of stricter specifications in regard to pesticide residues, aflatoxin etc., can be met by India by adopting integrated pest and disease management, training of spice farmers on the precautions to be taken for quality spice production and post harvest handling.

The important recommendations emerged out of the Congress were the following:

India should strive to increase production of quality spices through improved production technology and better post harvest management.

Adoption of modern tools such as biotechnology in spice production may be strengthened for enhancing productivity and assuring better intrinsic quality.

Efforts should be mode to produce spices organically in selected areas to meet the developing demand for such quality spices.

New spices such as vanilla, paprika and culinary herbs may be popularised so that India can supply the whole range of spices, which are required by the international spice industry.

Attention may be paid to ensure proper pre and postharvest practices so that quality requirement, especially for factors like mycotoxins, pesticide residues and microbial load which are most stringently adopted by the importing countries are met with.

As spices are available only in the seasons to even out supplies meeting regular demand from the importing countries, good storage and warehousing facilities at the production and exporting centres may be established.

Care should be taken that agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures are not turned out to be technical barriers in trade.

Continued efforts may be made for improvement and innovations in quality being prerequisites in the food chain.

In a group meeting jointly held by the representatives of ASTA, ESA, ANSA, AISEF and Spices Board immediately after the Plenary Session, it was decided that an International Federation of Spices Trade Association may be formed to address common issues on quality especially pesticide residues and Aflatoxin.

Response sheets were distributed to the delegates and their comments and suggestions were obtained. Delegates, in general, appreciated the venue and arrangements and thanked the Spices Board and All India Spices Exporters Forum for the manner in which they conducted the Congress. A number of delegates stated that they look forward for the next Congress being a rare and important event in the world spice industry.