Guwahati: Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said today that North East India can become the world’s leading supplier of organic food.
He said it was at a time when the whole world was looking for healthy food that met international food safety and quality standards and was free from chemical residues and other contaminants.
He made the observation while speaking at the International Buyer-Seller Meeting and Spice Conclave organized by the Spice Council of India for North East Region in Guwahati today.
The conclave brought together major foreign buyers, major exporters, farmers and traders from across the Northeast. The event was organized to promote India’s rich heritage of traditional spices, herbs and medicinal plants across the world, as well as to facilitate the growth and development of spices, condiments and similar products from the region. .
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Stating that India is known worldwide for its local spices, Sarma said spices and herbs in the country play a role that goes far beyond simple cooking, and are regularly used for their healing and therapeutic properties.
He mentioned that India produces around 75 of the 109 varieties of spices listed by the International Organization for Standardization. The country has now become the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices, and the overall production of different types of spices has grown rapidly in recent years, he noted.
Sarma said the North East region has gained special attention on the world map due to the quality of spices that are considered organic and among the many unique products and characteristics the region is famous for, spices are of a special recognition with worldwide demand.
The Chief Minister further informed that Assam produces almost 3.1 lakh metric tons of spices every year.
The state holds a large share in the production of spices such as ginger, turmeric, coriander, mustard, chilli, garlic, etc.
He also said that being the gateway to northeast India, with better connectivity and rapidly developing infrastructure; the state has the potential to be a major hub for post-harvest processing and value addition of the region’s spices and can become one of the major export hubs.
In addition, Sarma said steps have been taken to make the most of the Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for the North East (PM-DevlNE), One District One Product (ODOP) program and to convert the “organic by default” label of the spices produced. in the region to “certified organic” or “organic by design” to realize the maximum potential of the spice sector.
He informed that under the ODOP programme, several districts in Assam have identified spices as their target crop, such as; Bongaigaon turmeric; Mustard seeds and mustard products from Darrang, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh and Majuli districts; Ginger from Karbi Anglong, West Karbi-Anglong and Dima Hasao districts; Pepper from Dhubri and Jorhat.
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Commending the Spice Council for its initiative to establish a spice quality assessment laboratory in Guwahati, the Chief Minister said the laboratory will be of immense help and benefit to the North East region. , as this will make state-of-the-art testing available. international standard spice facilities, in the region itself.
To say that due to the lack of adequate infrastructure and industry presence for processing and value addition of spices, currently most of the products come out at the raw or semi-processed stage, resulting in low income for the Farmer and producer, Sarma insisted on good coordination between Spices Office, Agricultural Producers Organizations and Department of Agriculture and Industry.