Virtual Best Practices Forum by PBAB and launch of India Case Study on Spices

01 Sep, 2021

The global ‘Private Business Action for Biodiversity’ Programme (PBAB) organised a virtual Best Practices Forum on 31st August 2021. The event saw the launch of the India Case Study on Spices for ‘Effective Instruments for the Sustainable Protection of Biodiversity’.

The Best Practices Forum brought together partner companies from the spices sector, important key stakeholders such as the Spices Board of India, global project partners, World Spices Organization, and key NGOs as well as experts from spice institutes. The forum aimed to share case studies on biodiversity assessment as well as integration of identified measures within the spices supply chain. For the last five years, the project has had the opportunity to collaborate with the Spices Industry as well as other important stakeholders though multiple initiatives and has successfully achieved the objective of promoting and strengthening biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation.

The virtual forum offered a space to share experiences by partners who took biodiversity management seriously and actively in their business plans as well as supply chains. Presentations were shared on initiatives developed, besides the impacts and results obtained by the global project on strengthening capacities of spices sector through integration of biodiversity. Despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, the established goals were accomplished and in the last few months, efforts were added to promote actions and develop initiatives that have made it possible to progress towards a different paradigm, reaching new perspectives for further upscaling. The forum started with the opening remarks by Mr Andreas Gettkant, PBAB team leader, and shared outcome of the project from the three pilot countries- Brazil, Mexico and India followed by a setting of the context by Dr Poonam Pande, India Advisor, PBAB project. She provided the overview of the pilot implementation of Biodiversity Action Plan, methods, and monitoring of biodiversity measures.

This was followed by special address by Dr Reema Shree P., Director Spices Board of India who also launched India case study on a Biodiversity Management Tool. She emphasized that India is the largest producer, consumer, and exporter of spices in the world and accounts for half of the global trading in spices. However, about 85 per cent of the spice production in India is done by small-scale farmers, who typically farm less than two hectares and seasonally rotate spices cultivation alongside other crops. Spice farmers face uncertain pricing environments and adverse climatic situations. Over usage of fertilizers for an extended period and unsuitable use of chemical pesticides have caused many challenges so far. In the year 2017-18, a total area of 39,600,000 hectares of land in India was under cultivation of different spices. India exported $2.6 billion worth of spices to different global markets during the same year, a growth of 6% from the preceding year.

This was followed by a virtual round table session with senior representatives of spice companies i.e., Kancor, Nedspice, Olam and Akay Naturals which was moderated by Mr Pravir Deshmukh from India Business and Biodiversity Initiative. The round table discussions were focused on priority topics for spices companies to strengthen supply chain as a priority for biodiversity and sustainability as well as taking up the measures based on biodiversity assessment under PBAB. The company representatives mentioned that biodiversity plays a role in the spices supply chain and there is a concrete synergy between biodiversity and climate. They also discussed that the sector is highly dependent on ecosystem services and companies are taking good care and implementing various initiatives to minimise farming impacts on the biodiversity and ecosystem services.

‘Implementation of Biodiversity Action Plan on ground with the farmers’ was presented by Dr J Thomas and showcased various interventions which were helpful for small farmers. Through improved provisioning of ecosystem services, farming systems became more resilient to changing climate conditions and the economic viability of farm operations was sustained. He emphasised that Biodiversity Action Plans have proven to be an efficient tool for biodiversity measures within small spice farms. Union for Ethical Bio-trade (UEBT) shared case study from Western Ghats on implementation of Biodiversity Action Plans with small black pepper farmers and results were impressive to showcase as how farmers have reintroduced tradtional black pepper varities as one of the interventions.

Mr Ram Kumar Menon from World Spices Organization (WSO) shared a perspective from spice industry on integration of biodiversity aspects in the supply chain. He also pointed out that intervention from Private Business Action for Biodiversity Programme (PBAB) widened the scope by considering biodiversity in business – integrating and mainstreaming biodiversity principles into business operations of Spice companies. Mr Philip Kuruvilla, National Coordinator, NSSP supported this statement and presented how industry has joined hands to the National Sustainable Spices Program (NSSP) with a vision of 25% of major Spices grown in India – Chili, Cumin, Coriander, Turmeric, Pepper and Cardamom – is sustainable and biodiversity compliant by 2030. Measuring of impacts by using Biodiversity Monitoring Tool was shared by Mr Ashok Nair, Head Sustainable Operation in AVT Mc Cormick and he showed how the company saved almost 41% of water used for irrigation through the use of drip irrigation vs the use of flood irrigation, 30% reduction in the quantity of agrochemicals applied per acre as well as 21% reduction in pesticide application rounds.

The workshop ended with the updates from Dr Poonam Pande on two new forthcoming projects on spices. The virtual Best Practices Forum had about 85 participants from Government, Spices Company, global organizations, NGOs and industry associations.


About the project

The global PBAB project promotes promising methods and instruments for biodiversity-friendly production and commercialisation. It tests and enhances them and systematises the experience gained in a way that enables both private and public actors to use them. In India, the project addresses spice cultivation in the Western Ghats, a mountain range in southern India that is known for its great biodiversity. The PBAB project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). Read More

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