New Delhi, Dec 18 : Low productivity may lead to Indian spices losing their prominence in the international market in the coming years, a parliamentary committee has observed.
In a report, tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, it said that despite initiatives taken by the government, the productivity of spices in India remained "low and uncompetitive" to meet the increasing global demand.
"There is a plethora of programmes being implemented by the Spices Board and Agriculture Ministry for the development of spices in India and the quantum of production of spices sector is praiseworthy, but there still exists a lack of exportable surplus of spices," the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce said in its report on "Activities and Functioning of Spices Board".
The report noted that considering the several natural advantages that India possessed, the production of spices should be in surplus to meet the increasing global demand.
"The committee was informed that lack of quality planting materials, small sized land holdings, incidents of pest and disease, climate vagaries, presence of old and senile plants in the case of perennial crops, lack of irrigation facilities are the major challenges in increasing the productivity in spices sector."
Even as necessary interventions were being made by the Spices Board and Agriculture Ministry, the spices productivity remained "low and uncompetitive", it said.
The 152-page report added that production of small cardamom had decreased in 2016-17 compared to the previous year, whereas the increase in production of large cardamom was not "substantive enough to be cheerful about".
It directed the Spices Board to take necessary action to improve production.
It also recommended transfer of production and development of five major spices -- turmeric, pepper, chilli, ginger and garlic -- to the Spices Board on lines of cardamom.
The committee also recommended the Commerce Department to expedite the constitution of the Spices Board since the term of most of its members had expired.
It added the Board lacked adequate representation from the Northeast and asked the department to take appropriate steps to increase their representation.