As part of boosting production of spices in the country, the Spices Board has launched a bunch of measures to support farmers by offering various subsidies to enhance the quality through post-harvest improvement techniques. The Board will also provide financial assistance to farmers for irrigation, land development, mechanisation, replanting, soil conservation and organic farming of various spices. It will also give financial aid to purchase irrigation and farming equipment and tools.
As per Spices Board Chairman A. Jayathilak, “The initiatives are part of the Board’s 12th Plan to improve export-oriented production of small cardamom and post-harvest improvement of other spices across spice-growing regions in the country”. He also added “The eligibility criteria for availing the benefits are based on land held by the grower and is different for each programme”.
Under the new schemes, cultivators of small cardamom in Kerala and Tamil Nadu would be provided with a sum of Rs.70,000 a hectare for replanting, while farmers in Karnataka would get up to Rs.50,000 a hectare. The cultivators would also be given aid for planting material production. High-yielding and disease-free planting materials are to be made available to facilitate replanting. Subsidy at the rate Rs 2 per sucker and seedling for a maximum 10,000 suckers in Karnataka and Rs 2.50 per sucker in Kerala and Tamil Nadu is offered to the growers. According to growers, this would benefit roughly one lakh growers in the three southern states.
To help small scale cardamom farmers in these three southern states in irrigation and land development, the Board will provide financial assistance up to 25 per cent of actual cost for acquiring irrigation pump sets, sprinkler sets, equipment for gravity-fed irrigation system, and up to 50 per cent for water storage structure. The farmers would also get funding up to 25 per cent for soil conservation. Besides, they would be given a subsidy of Rs.1 lakh for purchasing improved cardamom curing devices and 50 per cent subsidy for GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) kits and bee-keeping boxes. By promoting bee keeping in cardamom plantations, the productivity can be increased and also this will give an additional income to farmers and keeping that in mind the Board is providing assistance for the supply of five bee boxes per hectare at 50 per cent subsidy, limited to Rs 1,880 per box.
As part of the farm mechanisation programme, spices growers would receive 50 per cent subsidy for purchasing equipment for the post-harvest improvement process, including cleaners, graders, spice slicing machines, de-huller, driers, storage units and extractors/dehydration units. The Board also provides financial assistance to organic farmers for attaining organic certification, maintenance of internal control system and purchasing organic inputs and bio-agent production units. Apart from this, it would provide a maximum of Rs.5 lakh as subsidy to Spices Producer’s Societies in major spice-growing regions in the country.
In 2014-15, a total of 893,920 tonnes of spices and spice products valued at Rs 14,899.68 crore were exported, registering 9 per cent increase in volume and 8 per cent in rupee terms in value as compared to FY14.