Sustainable cumin Production in Rajasthan By WSO in association with ISFEA


Rajasthan: World Spice Organisation (WSO) has ever since its inception, striveing hard to bring in value addition to spice supply chain by working on food safety, food security and sustainability by implementing scientific backward integration program at farm level. During the first year of its operation, WSO undertook a campaign to produce Aflatoxin free nutmeg and mace and during the second year, launched its IPM chilli project in Khargone District, a non – traditional area of Madhya Pradesh.

Apart from Chilli, which posted the biggest challenge to Indian Spice Industry in terms of chemical residues, cumin was another major spice, which had issues of non-compliance for the export market. So, as an organisation working on sustainable spice supply chain, WSO took up IPM cumin project in Rajasthan by adopting good agricultural practices to produce EU compliant cumin for the benefit of Spice Industry in 2013-14 and 2014-15 season. Indian Spice and Food Stuff Exporters Association (ISFEA), Mumbai supported WSO program by providing financial support and arranged potential buyers to buy back cumin produced under the project.
 WSO has executed their IPM cumin program in two Tehsils, Shiv and Undoo of Barmer Dist in Rajasthan based on their experience and historic data on pesticide usage in this region. A total number of 205 progressive farmers contributing a total area of 4100 acres registered with WSO to cultivate IPM cumin by adopting good agricultural practices and integrated pest Management.
The project is aimed to establish a long-term IPM program in Rajasthan for the benefit of the Spice Industry by building good rapport and cordial relation with farmers by education, guidance and to make them understand the importance of agrochemical control in the overall sustainability of cumin cultivation. At the same time, it envisaged to enable exporters to procure EU compliant cumin directly from farmers.
An agronomist, as the leader of the team and a 5 staffs were in the field to execute field extension works. A retired scientist from the University of Ajmeer was project co-ordinator.  Farmers were following un- scientific practices and were using weedicide along with irrigation water. Training and education was needed to curtail such practices. Most of the farmers had no knowledge on the chemicals or its dosage and were following instructions from the local pesticide dealers when it comes to pest control. Farmers were reluctant to divulge information on agricultural practices and application of chemicals.
Intensive survey and interviews were conducted to collect data on applied agrochemicals, field executives were keen on farmer’s regular activities, and field issues like diseases/pest attacks and chemical spray were closely monitored. Farmers who used banned chemicals were screened out on the basis of data collected on chemical usage before making the purchases. Extension activities were carried out efficiently and awareness programs conducted by WSO attracted many more farmers from neighbouring villages and requested WSO to start IPM cumin projects in their villages also. More than 500 farmers from the neighbouring villages attended the awareness programs  conducted by WSO and they used to contact WSO for any field activity.
Though cumin project in the first year of its operation has not been as successful as it was envisaged, the learning and experience from the project gave confidence to take up more such projects in subsequent years and expand its scope and reach.
The encouragement received from farmers and industry have prompted WSO to take up cumin project in successive year. The main challenge during the period was unseasonal rains at the harvesting period. The rain in the harvesting period damaged the standing crop and discoloured the produce.
WSO is committed to strive hard  to tackle quality related issues at farm level and ensure total control across the supply chain.
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