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May 5th, 2017
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The recent incident of beetle-infested jeera (cumin seed) exports from India has once again brought the quality issue of Indian spices exports to the fore.

In order to address the issue, the Spices Board, has issued a circular requiring exporters to undergo stricter testing and quality check before shipping the consignment.

Tighter sampling norms

According to the Spice Board circular issued on Wednesday, the export consignments would need to undergo several revised procedures in sampling with immediate effect. Henceforth, the sampling intimations shall be placed one day prior to the proposed sampling date. Also, the certificate shall be issued by the Spices Board based on the undertaking on the day of stuffing – the level where most quality lapses were seen happening.

Also, now the undertakings shall be submitted to the Board before 2 pm for processing and issuing the certificate. No stuffing would be permitted without the presence of Customs/Central Excise officer. The Board has introduced random sampling at the Mundra Port (Customs Area) by the Spices Board officials for confirmatory testing of the consignments.

The Board would also undertake surveillance/ inspection at the stuffing area/Mundra port/Rajkot/Unjha during the months of April/May, the circular stated. Spices Board took serious note of the adulteration in shipments and inferior quality of cumin from Gujarat.

Threat to exports

“Since such reported shipments will affect the image and reputation of the country ass well as pose a threat to Indian cumin exports, these revised procedures are introduced with immediate effect,” it said. Bhaskar Shah of Jabs International, one of the leading spice exporters, said, “There are reports that most of the weak quality and artificial cumin is exported to South American countries. Whereas our quote is $2,500 per tonne CIF, those who export inferior quality produce quote $1,900.

The inspection system and its enforcement are not adequate. This is affecting the image of Indian spices exports.” However, with Syria being a troubled region, India’s cumin seed exports are likely to touch 1 lakh tonnes by July.

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