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Kochi, April 29

SPICES exports rose 18 per cent in 2004-05 to a record $491 million as almost all commodities registered healthy growth during the year, the Spices Board has said.

Volume grew 32 per cent during the fiscal to 3.35 lakh tonnes (lt), surpassing the previous highest of 2.64 lt in 2002-03. In rupee terms, exports increased by 15 per cent to Rs 2,200 crore.

The Spices Board Chairman, Mr C.J. Jose, told Financial Journalists' Forum here that better prices, valued-added products and increased volumes were the main reasons for the growth.

"This is the first time in the history of spices exports that we have exceeded three lakh tonnes in volume," Mr Jose said. In 2003-04, India exported 2.54 lt of spices worth $416 million.

He said chilli was the highest earner as it contributed 41 per cent in quantity and 23 per cent in value. Other major contributions to the earnings were: spice oils and oleoresins (21 per cent); mint products (19 per cent); turmeric (seven per cent) and pepper (six per cent).

Chilli and chilli products exports grew by 59 per cent in quantity and 36 per cent in value (1.38 lt and Rs 499 crore respectively). This growth is also an all-time high.

Spices Board attributes the record performance of chilli, despite the `Sudan' adulteration controversy of 2003, to price competitiveness and improved checks to prevent adulteration and contamination.

Pepper exports declined to 14,150 tonnes from previous year's 16,635 tonnes as Indian pepper became uncompetitive in the international market against the same from Vietnam. This is because India has a strong domestic demand for pepper unlike Vietnam.

Value of pepper exports consequently came down to Rs 121.40 crore, from Rs 142.77 crore in 2003-04.

Another spice that also suffered a drop in exports was cardamom (small) on account of intense competition from Guatemala. Its exports declined to 650 tonnes valued at Rs 23.90 crore, from 757 tonnes valued at Rs 36.92 crore.

Mr Jose said export of value-added spices increased to Rs 1,263.66 crore from Rs 1,154.64 crore a year ago. Export of such products accounted for 23 per cent in quantity and 57 per cent in value in the total exports during the year.

Despite the dip in overall pepper exports, value-added pepper products recorded an increase of 11 per cent in volume and four per cent in value terms at 8,269 tonnes worth Rs 133.52 crore.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 30, 2005)
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