Clean Tech

The taste of things to come

Our Bureau | Updated on June 19, 2018 Published on June 19, 2018

An Indo-German project on biodiversity aims to add zing to the spices sector

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. But that is exactly what we are losing in the Indian spice sector. Precious spices like black pepper, green and black cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon, which grow in the Western Ghats, are losing their biodiversity quotient. They are increasingly being subjected to poor agricultural practices such as intensification of production and excessive use of pesticide. This brings with it environmental degradation in the form of clearing of forest areas, watershed contamination, soil pollution and ultimately pesticide residues in the crops itself.

The same spices were cultivated in earlier days and can be cultivated again via mixed cropping. Chemical pesticides can be replaced by natural repellants, making innovative use of the natural biodiversity of the region to bolster production. In short, spices can be grown in a biodiversity-friendly manner.

This, in fact, is being done by a few entrepreneurs who export their spices to countries where quality standards are stringent, and where demand for organic production is growing. Poor agriculture practices ensure that small producers, however, lose out on such orders.

To increase the production of biodiversity-friendly spices, the Capital last week saw the launch of a global project, ‘Fostering role of Business in Biodiversity Conservation’. It brought together the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and German environment agency GIZ to work on a ‘Private Business Action for Biodiversity’ (PBAB) project that seeks to “identify and analyse promising mechanisms and instruments for promoting biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation.”

Aimed at SMEs

The project will test pilot approaches in three countries — India, Brazil and Mexico. In India, it will focus on the spice supply chain in the Western Ghats with the National Biodiversity Authority as the nodal agency. The aim is to spread awareness about the issue and nudge biodiversity-friendly systems among Indian spice producers, especially the small and medium enterprises.

The project will take the help of the Spice Board of India, National Biodiversity Board, companies producing spices and their business associates.

Published on June 19, 2018

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