History of Spices Development in India


     The History of spices development dates back to 1951 by setting up of a high level Spices Enquiry Committee by the Planning Commission in view of the significant role spices play among agricultural commodities produced in the country. The committee felt the immense value of these commodities in building up the national economy and observed lack of organized efforts to improve their production and marketing as being done for other plantation crops like tea, coffee, rubber etc. The committee in their report submitted in October 1953, stressed the need for better planning, research and coordinated efforts in the proper development of these crops.

     The Government of India accepted above recommendations and provided necessary funds to ICAR for implementing various schemes on Research, Development and Marketing in all the regions of the country. An ad-hoc Central Spices and Cashew nut Committee, a semi autonomous body consisting of government officials and representatives of growers and traders was set up in 1961, devoting special attention in solving problems confronting the crop development and financed research schemes to be implemented by the State Governments.

     Based on the report of the Agricultural Research Review Team, appointed by Government of India, the Central Spices and Cashew nut committee was abolished in September 1965 and the responsibility for spices research was transferred to the ICAR. The Government of India took over development and marketing functions handled by the Committee by setting up of a Regional Office of the Ministry and subsequently created the present Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development as a subordinate office under Ministry of Agriculture with effect from 1st April, 1966 at Calicut in Kerala, for paying adequate attention in different aspects of crop development. Simultaneously Indian Spices Development Council was constituted in order to continue the association of various official and non-official interests with the development programmes on these crops and have the benefit of the continued advice. The Directorate served as the Secretariat of the Development Council.

     No sizeable programme for development of spices was undertaken in the first Five Year Plan (1951-56). The Second Five Year Plan (1956-61) contained provision to the tune of Rs 15.49 lakh while the Third Five Year Plan (1961-66) had an outlay of Rs 35 lakh for spice development with which planting material production was taken up for the development of major spices in the important growing states. In the Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74) development programmes were concentrated for large scale production and distribution of high yielding varieties of important spices with a financial provision of Rs 13.9 lakh

     A well organized effort for spices development was mooted in the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79) with a plan provision of Rs 175 lakh with stress for the development of major spices alone that too confined to traditional centers of cultivation. In this plan period a special component plan costing over Rs 30 lakh was also taken up for the development of spices cultivation in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands
In the Sixth Five Year Plan (1979-84) the development programmes on Spices were assigned to State Governments as their mandate on the recommendations of the National Development Council. However, Central Sector Scheme was continued in the Union Territories and autonomous organizations like State Agricultural Universities and ICAR Institutes with the limited financial resources made available.

     Majority of the state governments however continued the development programmes on spices mostly confined to planting material production so as to encourage area expansion with high yielding varieties released by the research stations. The above arrangements were continued till 1986-87.

     As this mode of implementation of the scheme was found inadequate in view of the growing demand for spices for domestic consumption and export, it was felt necessary to pay more attention towards spices development with adequate central assistance. Thus Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Spices Development was revived with the launching of an Integrated Programme for Development of Spices with an outlay of Rs 435 lakh with a central share of Rs 240 lakh for providing 50% of the financial requirement in respect of the schemes to be implemented by the state governments and 100% requirements for the schemes implemented in Union Territory administrations and autonomous organizations.

     In the Annual Plans 1990-91 and 1991-92, centrally sponsored schemes for the development of spices were intensified by increasing the financial outlay to the tune of Rs 244 lakh and Rs 574 lakh, respectively by providing cent per cent financial requirements. The Integrated Programme for Spices Development was further intensified in the VIII Plan (1992-97) with a financial outlay of Rs 125 crore comprising programmes for the overall development of 27 commercially important spice crops gown in India and the developmental activities were extended throughout the country particularly to the non traditional areas.

     The developmental efforts put into in the VIII Plan were intensified in the IX Plan with increased outlay and wider area of operation, so that due attention was devoted to every nook and corner of the country which have potential for development of any of the spices crops.

     The main objectives of the IX Plan programme for the development of spices were to achieve a production level so as to meet fully the domestic as well as export demand through productivity improvement and area expansion. Quality improvement and value addition were also given due stress to make our products more attractive and competitive in the International markets.

     In order to achieve the goal of an annual increase in production to the tune of 8 per cent, area expansion and wide coverage with high yielding varieties, productivity improvement by bringing more area under high production technology evolved from the research. The programme has targeted an increase in area under various spices to the tune of 3% on an average per annum. Scientific post - harvest operations were also encouraged to ensure quality improvement.

     During Tenth Plan, the development programmes on spices are being implemented through the State Horticulture / Agriculture Departments utilizing the funds earmarked to them under Marcromanagment in Agriculture. In order to foster this programme, the basic components particularly production of nucleus planting material of high yielding / export oriented varieties, transfer of technologies etc. are taken up by the Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development in association with State Agricultural Universities, ICAR Institutes, State Agriculture / Horticulture Departments etc. Under Planting Material Production programme, 40.10 lakhs black pepper rooted cuttings, 1117 tonnes of ginger seed rhizomes, 1626 tonnes of turmeric seed rhizomes, 18.44 tonnes seeds of chilli, 1570 tonnes of seed spices, 2400 tonnes of garlic and 5.44 lakhs seedlings of tree spices were produced and distributed during the period 2002-05.
     Government of India has launched National Horticulture Mission for an integrated development of various horticultural crops including spices, medicinal and aromatic plants during 2005-06.