World Spice Congress, Mumbai: bringing sustainibility to the spices sector

Spices Board is organizing the 14th edition of the World Spice Congress 2023 (WSC-2023) from 15th to 17th  September 2023 at the CIDCO Exhibition & Convention Center in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The registration link for participating at the WSC 2023 is available here.


India is known as a ‘Spices bowl of the World’ due to cultivation of quality spices since ancient times. The country produces 75 out of the 109 varieties of spices listed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Apart from being largest producer and consumer, India also maintains a strong position in the processing and trading of spices. In 2021-22, the country exported spices worth US$ 4,102.29 million to over 180 global destinations. Spices such as chilly, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel and value-added products like spice oils and oleoresins, curry powder etc. accounted for the major portion of this export.

Spices export from India to NL
Spices export from India to Netherlands

Considered as a starting and ending point of the traditional ‘Spice Route’, India and Netherlands have a rich legacy of spice trade since 17th century. As per the data from the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (DGCIS) shared by the Spices Board, India exported about 14.620,76 MT of spices and allied items to Netherlands in the 2021 - 22 year.

The Spices Board of the Government of India supports the developing spice industry and the export orientation of Indian spices. The Spices Board aims at reaching an export value of US$ 5 billion by 2025 and further US$10 billion by 2030.

Despite of these promising figures, there is a huge potential for India to increase spices production and enhance its global market share.


Chilli Field
Traditional post-harvest practice of sun-drying chillies

The Indian spice eco-system faces several challenges. Like many other crops, spices (such as Black pepper, Cumin, Clove, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Turmeric) are being hit by the erratic climatic patterns and unpredictable rain cycles. Cultivators are adopting aggressive farming techniques due to fragmented land holdings. Unrestricted use of agrochemicals have impacted the quality of water and soil for cultivation. Poor resource management and other redundant agricultural practices have caused irreparable damage to traditional farmlands. There is a drop in a quality of produce due to lack of skilled workforce and inappropriate post-harvest techniques.

Global value chains are following modern social and environmental norms while procuring spices from the suppliers. Offering quality assurance that meet international standards is no longer a prerogative  for earning good rates but is now considered as a basic requirement for surviving in the business. Evolving market regulations strongly focus on quality, safety and the traceability of the agri-produce including spices. Indian spices face constraints in meeting international standards due to lack of appropriate knowledge, infrastructure and skill-set. This is hampering the development of the Indian spice sector.

Spices Processing Unit
Advanced spices processing unit by Synthite Industries in India

Spice cultivators need to incorporate climate resilient cultivation practices. Use of a quality and robust propagation material promises to develop crop immunity against the changing climatic patterns. Optimal use of the resources and efforts to maintain their natural quality is essential to maintain future-proof production. Upskilling the available workforce and adopting technologically advanced cultivation methods shall help farmers to overcome the challenge of limited manpower. Incorporating sustainable and responsible best practices while sourcing, processing, packaging and supplying the spices will ensure quality and traceability of the final produce that is compliant with global standards.

Series of initiatives are being rolled out by the stakeholders from global spices sector to align with cause of the sustainability. The Sustainable Spices Initiative (SSI) by IDH is one such program. On the lines of SSI, IDH has joined forces with partners to launch the National Sustainable Spice Program (NSSP) in India. NSSP intends to sustainably transform Indian spices sector by developing partnerships amongst key players; creating value chain linkages, promoting sound agricultural practices; and establishing responsible service models.

As a natural partner in India’s quest for economic development, the Netherlands can offer assistance to the Indian spices sector. Mr. Aju Jacob, Director for Synthite Industries – an Indian company with operations in Netherlands, feels that the Dutch expertise in climate resilient, greenhouse technology may be useful for cultivating high-value spices like Vanilla and Saffron in India as it provides safeguards against extreme weather, pests; and ensures consistent, optimal growth. He mentions that there are opportunities for improving the cultivation of specific spices like Coriander, Cardamon and Cumin by promoting Indo-Dutch collaboration in genetic research, advanced propagation technique and promoting eco-friendly practices. Highlighting the use of block chain technology within the agricultural supply chain, he thinks that Dutch proficiency in digitization and traceability will be instrumental in providing accountability, authenticity, and real-time access to information for consumers and will address food safety and sustainability concerns.

World Spices Congress 2023

The Spices Board has been organizing World Spice Congress – WSC since the 1990s’ to enhance the export capabilities of Indian spices. Continuing this legacy, 14th WSC 2023 has been identified as a major international events to be organized on the sidelines of the prestigious G20 Presidency of India.

The WSC 2023 will feature sessions that will address crop and market forecast; food safety and quality requirements; and shifts in international market shifts. Sustainability, productivity, innovation, collaboration, excellence and safety shall be overarching theme for these sessions. An Exhibition showcasing display of spices and value-added spice products; experience zone; commodity pavilion is being planned as a part of this Congress.