From left: Shakeel Ahmad, consul commercial and culture at the Consulate General of India; Indian Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai; JCCI Vice Chairman Mazen Batterjee; and P.M. Sureshkumar, Secretary, Spices Board of India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry at the opening of Indian Spice Board’s B2B meeting at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tuesday."
India’s cardamom exports have gone up to 2,968 tons in 2011-2012 from 723 million tons last year," P.M. Sureshkumar, Secretary, Spices Board of India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said at the opening of the buyer-seller and B2B meeting of Indian spices exporters and planters at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tuesday.
High-quality cardamom is in great demand in the Kingdom and across the Gulf for its ceremonial Qahwa, a cardamom-based concentrated form of coffee, which is offered as a welcome drink with dates in the Arab world.
JCCI Vice Chairman Mazen Batterjee and Indian Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai, speaking at the opening ceremony, reviewed the growing bilateral ties between the two countries. Batterjee said the rising trade figures between the two countries spoke highly of the growing ties and hoped that they would strengthen further in times to come. There has been a big jump in the bilateral trade since the exchange of visits of the leadership of Saudi Arabia and India.
"India’s basket of trade with Saudi Arabia mostly relate to petroleum and petroleum products and needs to be diversified. The Spices Board delegation and the delegations that visited earlier are a step in the direction of diversification of the basket," Faiz added.
He announced that an exclusive Indian trade fair would be held in December this year at the JCCI’s Jeddah Centre for Forums & Events. The Saudi-India Joint Economic Commission meeting, which was held in New Delhi in January, will next be hosted in Riyadh after Ramadan.
A composite trade delegation that will accompany the ministerial delegation for the joint commission meeting will interact with local businessmen in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Sureshkumar said India exported only 10 percent of its spices production to overseas destinations because of India’s huge domestic consumption.
The board has also been encouraging the production of organic spices, which are mostly being grown in India’s northeastern region. "Our vision as a nation is to become the processing hub for spices for the world," he added.
India has 2,000 exporters of spices registered with the Spices Board, he said emphasizing that India’s cardamom, especially the smaller variety, has a big demand in the Kingdom because of its rich oil content. "Its oil content is 6.7 percent compared to 3.6 percent of the Guatemalan variety," he said.
The board also has an ongoing plan for setting up eight spices’ parks, notably in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states. "While some are already operational, some others are currently being set up," Sureshkumar added. — SG