|Pepper vines in an APPL garden. Telegraph picture
Guwahati, Aug. 31: Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) — the second largest tea producer in the country — will commission the largest spice processing unit in the Northeast by the year-end.
Spread around 6 bighas with 30,000 square foot built-up area, the spice unit will come up in December at Naltoli in Nagaon district and will have production facilities forprocessing ginger, turmeric, black pepper, bay leaf, bhut jolokia, mustard and coriander. The spice unit, which will source products from the region, will be housed at the Integrated Infrastructure Development Centre of the Assam government.
“We are growing only pepper in our gardens. The rest will be aggregated from farmers across the region,” a senior official of the APPL, who looks after its agri-business, told The Telegraph.
Altogether 3,46,000 pepper vines have been planted, of which 46,000 vines have borne fruit. Self-sufficiency in planting material has been achieved after independent nurseries were set up in all the 25 gardens of the company.
APPL aims to become the country’s largest producer of black pepper, the king of spices, by 2025. The company is investing Rs 20 crore in the spice unit, which will be set up in two phases. The spices will be sold under a brand name. Technical help and post-harvest management support will be provided by expert bodies.
“We will first look at selling to exporters and based upon the response, we will look at the consumer market,” the official said.
He said marketing channels have already been established with the organised sector comprising extractors, blenders and exporters. These sectors will form the core of the company’s marketing efforts and agri-business production, he said.
According to the Spices Board, the region can create exportable surplus of spices at competitive prices to ensure the country’s top spot in the international spice market.
The board is planning to provide financial assistance to spice growers’ co-operatives, farmers’ associations, NGOs representing spice growers and individual entrepreneurs in northeastern and hill states in the 12th Plan to establish primary processing facilities for organised marketing of the produce in the domestic and international markets with possible value addition.
APPL is a full-member of the Sustainable Spices Initiative, which brings together leading international companies and NGOs aiming to transform the mainstream spices sector, thereby securing future sourcing and boosting economic growth in producing countries.