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Indian Spice Industry – Quality Concerns

GS-3 Mains : Economy

Revision Notes

Question : Examine the recent quality concerns in the Indian spice industry and their implications on both domestic and international fronts.

Issue:

  • New countries raising concerns about quality of Indian spices.
  • Hong Kong & Singapore banned MDH & Everest brands due to carcinogenic ethylene oxide.
  • Mandatory recall issued, raising questions about regulatory lapses.

Industry Status:

  • India: Largest producer, consumer & exporter of spices globally.
  • Production (2022-23): 11.14 million tonnes (up from 2021-22).
  • Export (2022-23): US$ 3.73 billion (up from 2021-22).
  • Varieties produced: 75 out of 109 listed by ISO.
  • Top spices: Chilli, cardamom, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin.
  • Top producing states: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh etc.
  • Export destinations (2023-24, till Feb): China, USA, Bangladesh, UAE, Thailand etc.

Government Initiatives:

  • Spices Board of India (Established 1986):
    • Promotes Indian spices globally.
    • Links Indian exporters and importers.
    • Supports technology adoption and upgrading for processing.
  • Spices Parks:
    • Eight parks in key production/market centers to improve farmer income and reach.

Challenges:

  • Food Safety, Sustainability, Traceability:
    • Diverse food landscape hinders efficient ingredient tracing.
    • Lack of standardized recordkeeping and potential fraud.
  • Logistic Barriers:
    • Uneven distribution of food testing labs across states.
    • Insufficient food safety officers and resource constraints.
    • Ineffective enforcement due to lack of accountability and consequences.
  • Transparency Issues:
    • FSSAI’s opaque operations hinder meeting safety standards and building trust.
    • Surveys highlighting contamination haven’t addressed adulteration practices.

Impact:

  • Quality concerns threaten over half of India’s spice exports.

Solutions:

  • Urgent and transparent action needed to address quality issues.
  • Stricter regulations and transparent standards for food production and safety.
  • Swift investigations and public findings to rebuild global trust.
  • Proactive monitoring and enforcement to prevent future incidents.

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