In recent years, there has been a growing demand for Maharashtra’s spices in domestic as well as international markets. The production of spices is distributed across various regions of Maharashtra, each with its unique agro-climatic characteristics. For instance, Vidarbha is known for turmeric, chilli, black pepper, ginger, coriander; north Maharashtra for turmeric, ginger, chilli, garlic; Marathwada for turmeric and chilli; Western Maharashtra for chilli, pomegranate, turmeric, ginger; and Konkan for black pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and kokam.

The primary target markets for Maharashtra’s spices include the Middle East, South-East Asia, Europe, and North America. These regions have a high demand for quality spices, both for culinary purposes and for use in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other industries.

There is a growing preference for organic and sustainably sourced spices in international markets. Maharashtra’s spices have the potential to capitalise on this trend, given the State’s favourable agro-climatic conditions for organic farming and the increasing awareness about health benefits of natural spices.

However, challenges such as inconsistent supply chains, inadequate infrastructure, and regulatory barriers need to be addressed.

The Opportunities

The Geographical Indication (GI) tags associated with certain Maharashtra spices, such as Sangli turmeric, Waigaon turmeric, Solapur pomegranate, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg kokum, Kasti coriander, Basmat haldi, Latur tamarind, Nandurbar mirch, Kolhapuri chilli, and others, offer unique branding opportunities and premium pricing in international markets. Establishment of Spice Board offices in strategic locations like Dharashiv and Sangli can facilitate market access, trade promotion, and capacity building initiatives.

Infrastructure constraints, including inadequate cold storage facilities, transportation networks and processing units, pose challenges to the efficient supply chain management of spices. .

Regulatory hurdles related to export documentation, quality standards compliance, and phytosanitary requirements need to be streamlined to facilitate smooth trade.

Market competition from other spice-producing regions, both within India and globally, necessitates continuous innovation and differentiation strategies to maintain a competitive edge.

The proposed Spice Board offices in Dharashiv and Sangli will serve as focal points for coordinating export promotion activities, providing technical assistance to farmers and exporters, and facilitating market linkages.

Collaboration with farmers, cooperatives, and agribusinesses will be essential to strengthen the spice value chain, from cultivation to processing and marketing. Training programmes on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), post-harvest handling, and quality control measures will enhance the quality and marketability of Maharashtra’s spices.

Incentives and support programmes for farmers transitioning to organic farming practices will not only meet the growing demand for organic spices but also enhance sustainability and environmental stewardship in spice cultivation.

Research initiatives aimed at improving spice varieties, optimising processing techniques, and developing innovative spice-based products will enhance Maharashtra’s competitiveness in the global spice market.

Participation in international trade fairs, exhibitions, and promotional events will showcase Maharashtra’s spices to global buyers. Digital marketing initiatives leveraging social media platforms and e-commerce channels will enhance the visibility and accessibility of Maharashtra’s spice brands.

Good hygienic practices, good manufacturing practices and, more importantly, integrated pest management practices at cultivation level are vital. State incentives for spices export promotion and establishment of spice export clusters in different parts of the State are also important.

Unlocking the export potential of spices in Maharashtra requires a multi-faceted approach encompassing policy support, infrastructure development, market access facilitation, and capacity building initiatives.

Patil is an agricultural economist and Kulloli is an officer in Spices Board