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Spices exports rise by Rs 230 cr in April-August

G.K. Nair

Kochi , Sept. 20

SPICES export increased substantially, both in terms of volume and value, during the first five months of the current fiscal with coriander crossing the target set for the current fiscal. Exports of chilli and turmeric have touched around 80 per cent and 65 per cent of their targets respectively.

Total exports during April-August stood at 1,52,750 tonnes valued at Rs 920.22 crore as against 86,142 tonnes worth Rs 690.06 crore during the same period a year ago. Thus, in terms of value it has gone up by Rs 230.16 crore and in volume by 66,608 tonnes.

As against the target of 18,000 tonnes valued at Rs 58.50 crore, export of coriander touched 19,500 tonnes valued at Rs 44.96 crore. The drop in value has been caused by the fall in the unit value from Rs 39.29 a kg to Rs 23.05 a kg, Mr S. Kannan, Director (Marketing) Spices Board told Business Line. He said exports of chilli had gone up to 60,250 tonnes valued at Rs 221.87 crore from 24,250 tonnes worth Rs 106.70 crore and against the target of 75,000 tonnes valued at Rs 315 crore. Similarly, turmeric exports stood at 20,000 tonnes valued at Rs 75.24 crore compared to 12,250 tonnes valued at Rs 45.08 crore. The target set for this item is 31,000 tonnes valued at Rs 108.50 crore, he said.

The other items which have shown increase are cardamom (small), ginger, cumin, celery, fennel, fenugreek, other seeds (such as mustard, aniseed, bishopseed (ajwain seed), dill seed, poppy seed etc.), vanilla, curry powder/paste/condiments and spice oils and oleoresins.

Pepper, which used to be the main contributor to the spices exports in the past, has dropped to 5,800 tonnes valued at Rs 51 crore from 7,400 tonnes valued at Rs 65.42 crore in Apr-Aug 2003. Other spices such as cardamom (large), ginger, garlic, nutmeg and mace, mint products and other spices (including tamarind, asafoetida, cassia, saffron etc) have also shown a decline. The exports realisation would have gone up had there not been a fall in the unit value of most of the items, he said.

Attributing the rise in exports of other items to non-availability of these items such as chilli, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, other seeds etc., from other sources due to crop failure, Mr Ramkumar Menon, Chairman, All India Spices Exporters Forum said, "Buyers have now turned to India and we could offer these products at fairly competitive prices."

He said the poor chilli crop in other producing countries had compelled the buyers to procure it from India. Similarly, some problems with the coriander crop in the major growing countries in the erstwhile Eastern Europe had pushed up its exports. In the case of turmeric, India still maintains a monopoly with its qualitatively superior product, he said.

Given the present trend the total exports from India during 2004-05 could surpass the set target of 2,50,000 tonnes valued at Rs 2,000 crore, the Spices Board official said.

During the last financial year 2,46,566 tonnes of spices valued at Rs 1,905.08 crore were exported as against 2,64,107 tonnes worth Rs 2,086 crore in 2002-03. The target set for the current fiscal is 2.5 lakh tonnes valued at Rs 2,000 crore, he added.

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