Indonesia, once regarded as the Land of Spices, is hoping to boost its export of spices to the European Union (EU), with a new multi-stakeholder platform dedicated to helping farmers export high-quality and sustainable spices.
According to statement from Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, the global demand for spices is rising amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the world is becoming more aware of its healing properties.
The ministry’s Food and Agribusiness Deputy for Coordination, Musdhalifah Machmud said that Indonesia recorded US$218 million in spice exports from January to April 2020, a 19.28% growth from the same period in 2019. The potential for growth in export is huge as global spice and seasonings market grew at 2-5% annually to reach US$15.4 billion in 2020.
Musdhalifah said during the virtual presentation of Sustainable Spices Initiative Indonesia (SSI-I), that major global markets like the EU, the US and Japan commanded 47% of the total global spice import. She emphasised that the EU holds the largest share, or 34% of global spice imports which came mainly from China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil. The EU is also projected to have a 5-fold increase in spice imports in 2050.
Indonesia however needs to ‘clean up its own backyard’ first as its principal crop, nutmegs experience difficulty entering the EU as it exceeds EU’s safety limits for aflatoxin i.e. fungal toxin that contaminates crops.
Dedi Junaedi, Director of plantation marketing and processing at the Agriculture Ministry said, “Perhaps this is due to the long trip to the EU. So during its shipment, it was found the aflatoxin content had exceeded the limit, even though it was still at a safe level when first dispatched. This is also possible because of the different testing, sampling methods, and tools used.”
EU is an important export destination for Indonesia’s nutmeg and Indonesia hopes the nutmeg safety issue can be resolved through SSI-I where the private sector, civil society organisations, research institutions and farmer organisations discussed and work together to accelerate sustainability in the spices sector and facilitate better market access.
To this end, the multi-stakeholder platform has laid out a 5-year roadmap. They would also work alongside the government on sustainable spices policies. SSI-I has formed 3 working groups namely Social Impact Group which focuses on achieving a 10% increase in farmers’ income; Sustainable Agriculture Group which discussed challenges faced by farmers and processors for better and sustainable spice exports. This includes equipping local farmers with good agricultural practices and improving local laboratory capabilities. The final working group is Market Access Group which will find ways to link Indonesian spice producers with customers abroad.
SSI-I aims to achieve a 3-fold increase in Indonesia’s sustainable spice exports by 2025.