A farmer shows harvested nut megs during a drying process at Darussalam Village, Aceh, on 18 October, 2017. (Antara Photo/Rahmad)

Mother of Spices: Indonesia Eyes to Boost Spice Export to the EU

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

APRIL 30, 2021

Jakarta. Indonesia is eyeing to ramp up their spice exports —particularly to the European Union, or EU— with a new multi-stakeholder platform dedicated to helping farmers export high-quality and sustainable spices.

According to the 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 coordination deputy Musdhalifah Machmud noted Indonesia recorded $218 million for spice export in January-April 2020, a 19.28 percent rise from the same period in 2019. 

"A market prospect that we should address is that the global spice consumption increases 2 to 5 percent per year, with a value of $16.6 billion in 2013," Musdhalifah told the Sustainable Spices Initiative Indonesia (SSI-I) virtual launch on Thursday.

Musdhalifah said major economies such as the EU, the US, and Japan amount to 47 percent of the total global spice import. She also saw a tremendous opportunity in the EU market.

"The EU holds the largest share, or 34 percent, in the global spice imports, mainly from China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil. The EU is also predicted to have a fivefold increase in spice imports in 2050." 

Unfortunately, Indonesian nutmegs experience difficulties entering the EU, as the spice exceeds the EU's safety limits for aflatoxin — a fungal toxin that contaminates crops, according to Dedi Junaedi, the director of plantation marketing and processing at the Agriculture Ministry.

"Our nutmegs are facing border rejections for exceeding EU's aflatoxin limits. Even though we already have to show a health certificate, which includes the aflatoxin level, when we first ship [the nutmegs]," Dedi 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," he added.

At the conference, Dedi hoped the SSI-I could help address this issue, as the EU is an important export destination for Indonesia's nutmeg. 

The SSI-I brings together the private sector, civil society organizations, research institutions, and farmer organizations to accelerate sustainability in the spices sector and facilitate better market access.

To this end, the multi-stakeholder platform has laid out a five-year roadmap. They would also work alongside the government on sustainable spices policies. 

"To support the 2020-2025 roadmap, we have formed three working groups who will each focus on improving social impact, sustainable agriculture, and food safety, as well as market access," SSI-I chairman Dippos Naloanro Simanjuntak said. 

The social impact group focuses on achieving a 10 percent increase in farmers' income.

The sustainable agriculture group would discuss 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.

"Last but not least is the market access group, which will discuss ways to help link Indonesian spice producers with customers abroad," Dippos said.

SSI-I was also aiming for a threefold increase in Indonesia's sustainable spice exports by 2025.

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