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The Wonders of Turmeric: The Golden Spice

Turmeric, scientifically known as Curcuma longa, is a highly valued crop cultivated in several states of India, including Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and Assam. Among these states, Andhra Pradesh holds the largest share, occupying 35.0% of the turmeric cultivation area and contributing to 47.0% of the total production.

Turmeric – The Golden Spice

Turmeric, often referred to as the “golden spice” or the “spice of life,” has significant cultural and commercial importance in India. It is considered a sacred spice and is sometimes called “Indian saffron.” The plant is grown from rhizomes, which are planted between May and June and are typically ready for harvesting in about 8 to 10 months.

Usage of Turmeric

Turmeric is widely used in various forms as a condiment, flavoring agent, and coloring agent. Its applications are diverse and range from culinary uses to medicinal purposes. Curcuma, the genus to which turmeric belongs, is gaining recognition worldwide for its potential in treating a variety of ailments. Its compounds have been credited with anti-inflammatory, hypo-cholesteremic, cholera tic, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, anti-fibrotic, anti-venomous, antiviral, anti-diabetic, anti-hepatotoxic, and anti-cancerous properties, as well as insect repellent activity.

Turmeric Cultivation

As a tuber crop, turmeric is commonly cultivated in small homestead lands and backyards. It is an annual crop, and different cultivars are found throughout the country, often named after the localities where they are grown. Some popular cultivars include Roma, Suroma, Rasmi, Ranga, Rajendra Sonia, Supreme, Krishna, Supreme, IISR Kedaram, Duggirala, Tekurpeta, Sugandham, Amalapuram, Erode local, Alleppey, Moovattupuzha, and Lakadong.

Local indigenous communities in Koraput, Kandhamal, and Kalahandi regions play a significant role in cultivating turmeric for various purposes. These include adhering to cultural norms, spiritual practices, medicinal uses, spice production, and generating income as a cash crop. The growing season for turmeric extends from June to March, and besides its cultural and medicinal uses, turmeric is also utilized as a condiment, dye, drug, and cosmetic. India stands as a leading producer and exporter of turmeric globally.

Temperature and climatic requirements

Turmeric can be grown in diverse tropical conditions from sea level to 1500 m above sea level, at a temperature range of 20-35 degrees Celsius with an annual rainfall of 1500 mm or more, under rainfed or irrigated conditions. Though it can be grown on different types of soils, it thrives best in well-drained sandy or clay loam.

Farmer’s awareness

Resource-poor farmers have little knowledge of how to market their produce, so they fetch a very low price for their produce, and sometimes which even run into losses. Raw turmeric is unprofitable to sell, so the farmers should go for value addition, like making turmeric powder, packaging, branding and selling either in wholesale or retail markets. For this sincere effort in value addition through purchasing of machinery by jointly/ cooperative basis. This can help in terms of more production, quality improvement, process improvement and higher earnings. For marketing, farmers have tied up with some retailers. They are also thinking to establish their own wholesale and retail counters at towns and cities.

Tumeric Cultivation Guidelines

Happy woman walking in the turmeric field.
Happy woman walking in the turmeric field.

Preparation of land

The land is prepared with the receipt of early monsoon showers. The soil is brought to a fine tilth by giving about four deep ploughings. Hydrated lime @ 500 kg/ha has to be applied for laterite soils and thoroughly ploughed. Immediately with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers, beds of 1.0 m width, 15 cm height and of convenient length are prepared with spacing of 50 cm between beds. Planting is also done by forming ridges and furrows.

Planting

In Kerala and other West Coast areas where the rainfall begins early, the crop can be planted during April-May with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers.

Seed material

Whole or split mother and finger rhizomes are used for planting and well developed healthy and disease free rhizomes are to be selected. Small pits are made with a hand hoe on the beds with a spacing of 25 cm x 30 cm. Pits are filled with well decomposed cattle manure or compost, seed rhizomes are placed over it then covered with soil. The optimum spacing in furrows and ridges is 45-60 cm between the rows and 25 cm between the plants. A seed rate of 2,500 kg of rhizomes is required for planting one hectare of turmeric.

Manuring 

Farmyard manure (FYM) or compost @ 30-40 t/ha is applied by broadcasting and ploughed at the time of preparation of land or as basal dressing by spreading over the beds or in to the pits at the time of planting. At the time of planting and organic manures like oil cakes can also be applied @ 2 t/ha. In such case, the dosage of FYM can be reduced. Integrated application of coir compost (@ 2.5 t/ha) combined with FYM, biofertilizer (Azospirillum) and half recommended dose of NPK is also recommended.

Mulching

The crop is to be mulched immediately after planting with green leaves @ 12-15 t/ha. Mulching may be repeated @ 7.5 t/ha at 45 and 90 days after planting after weeding, application of manure and earthing up.

Weeding and irrigation

Weeding has to be done thrice at 60, 90 and 120 days after planting depending upon weed intensity. In the case of irrigated crop, depending upon the weather and soil conditions, about 15 to 23 irrigations are to be given in clayey soils and 40 irrigations in sandy loams.

Mixed cropping

Turmeric can be grown as an intercrop in coconut and arecanut plantations. It can also be raised as a mixed crop with chillies, colocasia, onion, brinjal and cereals like maize, ragi, etc.

Organic Production

Turmeric plant with its roots exposed. Full harvest of turmeric at home. Miraculous root to fight ma
Turmeric plant with its roots

Conversion plan

For certified organic production, at least 18 months the crop should be under organic management i.e., only the second crop of turmeric can be sold as organic. The conversion period may be relaxed if the organic farm is being established on a land where chemicals were not previously used, provided sufficient proof of history of the area is available. It is desirable that organic method of production is followed in the entire farm; but in the case of large extent of area, the transition can be done in a phased manner for which a conversion plan has to be prepared.

Turmeric as a best component crop in agri-horti and silvi-horti systems, recycling of farm waste can be effectively done when grown with coconut, arecanut, mango, Leucaena, rubber etc. As a mixed crop it can also be grown or rotated with green manure/ legumes crops or trap crops enabling effective nutrient built up and pest or disease control. When grown in a mixed cultivation system, it is essential that all the crops in the field are also subjected to organic methods of production.

In order to avoid contamination of organically cultivated plots from neighboring non-organic farms, a suitable buffer zone with definite border is to be maintained. Crop grown on this isolation belt cannot be treated as organic. In sloppy lands adequate precaution should be taken to avoid the entry of run-off water and chemical drift from the neighboring farms. Proper soil and water conservation measures by making conservation pits in the interspaces of beds across the slope have to be followed to minimize the erosion and runoff. Water stagnation has to be avoided in the low lying fields by taking deep trenches for drainage.

Managing Insects, Pests, and Diseases

Pests
Pests

Leaf blotch

Leaf blotch is caused by Taphrina maculans and appears as small, oval, rectangular or irregular brown spots on either side of the leaves which soon become dirty yellow or dark brown. The leaves also turn yellow. In severe cases the plants present a scorched appearance and the rhizome yield is reduced. 

Leaf spot

Leaf spot is caused by Colletotrichum capsici and appears as brown spots of various sizes on the upper surface of the young leaves. The spots are irregular in shape and white or grey in the centre. Later, two or more spots may coalesce and form an irregular patch covering almost the whole leaf. The affected leaves eventually dry up. The rhizomes do not develop well. 

Rhizome rot

The disease is caused by Pythium graminicolum. The collar region of the pseudostem becomes soft and water soaked, resulting in collapse of the plant and decay of rhizomes. Treating the seed rhizomes with mancozeb 0.3% for 30 minutes prior to storage and at the time of sowing prevents the disease. When the disease is noticed in the field, the beds should be drenched with mancozeb 0.3%.

Nematode pests

Root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) and burrowing nematode (Radopholus similis) are the two important nematodes causing damage to turmeric. Root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus sp.) are of common occurrence in Andhra Pradesh. Wherever nematode problems are common, use only healthy, nematode-free planting material. Increasing the organic content of the soil also checks the multiplication of nematodes. Pochonia chlamydosporia can be applied to the beds at the time of sowing @ 20 g/bed (at 106 cfu/g) for management of nematode problems.

Shoot borer

The shoot borer (Conogethes punctiferalis) is the most serious pest of turmeric. The larvae bore into pseudostems and feed on internal tissues. The presence of a bore-hole on the pseudostem through which frass is extruded and the withered central shoot is a characteristic symptom of pest infestation. The adult is a medium sized moth with a wingspan of about 20 mm; the wings are orange- yellow with minute black spots. Fully-grown larvae are light brown with sparse hairs.

Rhizome scale

The rhizome scale (Aspidiella hartii) infests rhizomes in the field (at later stages of the crop) and in storage. Adult (female) scales are circular (about 1mm diameter) and light brown to grey and appear as encrustations on the rhizomes. They feed on sap and when the rhizomes are severely infested, they become shrivelled and desiccated affecting its germination. Discard the severely infested rhizomes.

Minor pests

Adults and larvae of leaf feeding beetles such as Lema sp. feed on leaves especially during the monsoon season and form elongated parallel feeding marks on them. The lacewing bug (Stephanitis typicus) infests the foliage causing them to turn pale and dry up. The pest infestation is more common during the post monsoon period especially in drier regions of the country. The turmeric thrips (Panchaetothrips indicus) infests the leaves causing them to roll, turn pale and gradually dry up. The pest infestation is more common during the post monsoon period especially in drier regions of the country. 

For organic production, traditional varieties adapted to the local soil and climatic conditions that are resistant or tolerant to diseases, pests and nematode infection should be used. All crop residues and farm wastes like green loppings, crop residues, grasses, cow dung slurry, poultry droppings etc. available on the farm can be recycled through composting, including vermicomposting so that soil fertility is maintained at high level. No synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides are allowed under organic system. 

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Farmyard manure may be applied @ 40 t/ha along with vermin- compost @ 5-10 t/ha and mulching with green leaves @ 12- 15 t ha-1 at 45 days intervals. Based on soil test, application of lime/dolomite, rock phosphate and wood ash has to be done to get required quantity of phosphorus and potassium supplementation. When the deficient conditions of trace elements become yield limiting, restricted use of mineral/chemical sources of micronutrients by soil application or foliar spray are allowed as per the limits of standard setting or certifying organizations. Further, supplementation of oil cakes like neem cake (2 t/ha), composted coir pith (5 t/ha) and suitable microbial cultures of Azospirillum and phosphate solubilizing bacteria will improve the fertility and yield.

Use of biopesticides, biocontrol agents, cultural and phytosanitary measures for the management of insect pests and diseases forms the main strategy under organic system. Spraying Neemgold 0.5% or neemoil 0.5% during July-October (at 21 day intervals) is effective against the shoot borer.

Selection of healthy rhizomes, soil solarization and incorporation of Trichoderma, seed treatment and soil application of biocontrol agents like Trichoderma or Pseudomonas multiplied in suitable carrier media such as coir pith compost, well rotten cow dung or quality neem cake may be done at the time of sowing and at regular intervals to keep the rhizome rot disease in check. Application of quality neem cake mentioned earlier along with the bioagents. Pochonia chlamydosporia is useful to check the nematode population.

Harvesting

Heaps of freshly harvested Turmeric roots on a bowl on the grass overhead view
Heaps of freshly harvested Turmeric roots on a bowl on the grass

Depending upon the variety, the crop becomes ready for harvest in 7-9 months after planting during January-March. Early varieties mature in 7-8 months, medium varieties in 8-9 months and late varieties after 9 months. The land is ploughed and the rhizomes are gathered by hand picking or the clumps are carefully lifted with a spade. The harvested rhizomes are cleared of mud and other extraneous matter adhering to them.

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Processing

Curing

Fresh turmeric is cured for obtaining dry turmeric. The fingers are separated from mother rhizomes. Mother rhizomes are usually kept as seed material. Curing involves boiling of fresh rhizomes in water and drying in the sun.

In the traditional method of curing, the cleaned rhizomes are boiled in water just enough to immerse them. Boiling is stopped when froth comes out and white fumes appear giving out a typical odour. The boiling should last for 45-60 minutes when the rhizomes turn soft. The stage at which boiling is stopped largely influences the colour and aroma of the final product. Over cooking spoils the colour of the final product while under-cooking renders the dried product brittle.

In the improved scientific method of curing, the cleaned fingers (approximately 50 kg) are taken in a perforated trough of 0.9 m x 0.5 m x 0.4 m size made of GI or MS sheet with extended parallel handle. The perforated trough containing the fingers is then immersed in a pan; 100 litres of water is poured into the trough so as to immerse the turmeric fingers. The whole mass is boiled till the fingers become soft. The cooked fingers are taken out of the pan by lifting the trough and draining the water into the pan. The water used for boiling turmeric rhizomes can be used for curing fresh samples. The processing of turmeric is to be done 2 or 3 days after harvesting. If there is delay in processing, the rhizomes should be stored under shade or covered with sawdust or coir dust.

Drying

Fresh Turmeric roots and turmeric slices (Curcuma longa) close up, cut into little slices for drying
Fresh Turmeric roots and turmeric slices (Curcuma longa), cut into little slices for drying

The cooked fingers are dried in the sun by spreading them in 5-7 cm thick layers on bamboo mats or drying floor. A thinner layer is not desirable, as the colour of the dried product may be adversely affected. During night time, the rhizomes should be heaped or covered with material which provides aeration. It may take 10-15 days for the rhizomes to become completely dry. Artificial drying, using cross-flow hot air at a maximum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius also gives a satisfactory product. In the case of sliced turmeric, artificial drying has clear advantages in giving a brighter coloured product than sun drying which tends to undergo surface bleaching. The yield of the dry product varies from 10-30% depending upon the variety and the location where the crop is grown.

Polishing

Dried turmeric has a poor appearance and a rough dull outer surface with scales and root bits. The appearance is improved by smoothening and polishing the outer surface by manual or mechanical rubbing. Manual polishing consists of rubbing the dried turmeric fingers on a hard surface. The improved method is by using a hand operated barrel or drum mounted on a central axis, the sides of which are made of expanded metal mesh. When the drum filled with turmeric is rotated, polishing is effected by abrasion of the surface against the mesh as well as by mutual rubbing against each other as they roll inside the drum. Turmeric is also polished in power operated drums. The yield of polished turmeric from the raw material varies from 15-25%.

Colouring

The colour of the processed turmeric influences the price of the produce. For an attractive product, turmeric powder (mixed with little water) may be sprinkled during the last phase of polishing.

Preservation of seed rhizomes

Rhizomes for seed purpose are generally stored by heaping in well ventilated rooms and covered with turmeric leaves. The seed rhizomes can also be stored in pits with saw dust, sand along with leaves of Strychnos nuxvomica (Kuchila or Kanjiram). The pits are to be covered with wooden planks with one or two openings for aeration. 

Kandhamal is the major turmeric-growing district of the state. It is the main cash crop for their economic development. Kandhamal Turmeric is an important product and now become popular in the organic food market of Europe and North America. The local variety grown from time immemorial is having 2-3 percent curcumin, 12-15 per cent of oleoresin and 5.3 per cent of volatile oil. 

Cost of production 

As most of the farmers in Kandhamal district produced turmeric by traditional farming practices where the farming knowledge derived from forefathers with no application of chemical fertilizer or any other organic input; even they do not use any irrigation for cultivation. Mulching is practiced by using available natural sal leaves along with small branches which add organic manure by decomposition. The major factors in production include seed and labour cost. For the purpose of this study, cost of production was calculated based on the informal discussions with farmers conducted in various villages in and around the three blocks selected. 

Cost of labour 

The farmers only bear the cost of labour. It included both hired labour and family labour for the operations like land preparation, ploughing, cultural operations like sowing, mulching, weeding, harvesting, boiling and drying. Cost of seed material Farmers usually keep seeds from the previous harvest. Farmers usually separate 20% to 25% of harvest as seed. The seeds are stored in a pit under the ground for three to four months till plantation. The cost of seed is usually higher than the fresh ones. Out of the major cost in the production of fresh turmeric, the highest cost is incurred in labour cost with 73.19% share of total cost of production of fresh turmeric. Similarly, the cost of seed represent 26.81% share of the total cost. 

Costs and Returns in Turmeric Cultivation 

turmeric root and powder in bowl on table , top view
Turmeric root and powder in bowl

Labour Utilization Pattern in Turmeric cultivation It was evident that turmeric cultivation is labour intensive, for cultivation of one ha of turmeric a total of 115 person days of labour are required out of which 73 man days of male labour, 32 days of woman labour, 10 pair days of bullock labour were utilized. In case of post harvest operations like boiling and drying of turmeric, 12 person days of male labour, 8 days of woman labour were utilized per hectare. Out of the major cost in the production of fresh turmeric, the highest cost is incurred in labour cost; this is due to lack of modern technology.

Input Utilization Pattern in Turmeric cultivation 

The resource poor farmers do not use any input except seed (20 q/ha) of the previous year. This might be due to lack of technical knowledge. Even if they don’t use any irrigation for their crop, they only depend upon rainwater, which ultimately reduces the figure yield. They are unaware about use of any organic input like organic manure, biofertilizer, pesticides etc., which can boost their yield. 

The total cost of cultivation of the Turmeric growers was found to be Rs 52200. The total cost of dried Turmeric production of the sample KASAM farmers (Rs 558/q) was found to be more than the traditional farmers (Rs. 522 /q). Yield of Turmeric crop in case of traditional Turmeric farmers and KASAM farmers was same i.e. 100 quintals per ha. After processing (boiling and drying) which yields into 20 q / ha. But the average price received by them were Rs 48/kg and Rs 50/kg respectively. The net returns per quintal of dried Turmeric production for these two categories were found to be Rs 42420 and Rs 44120 respectively. 

Partial budgeting of primary processing functions 

This is a technique used to test the profitability for a minor modification done at the farmer level. When the farmer undertake the pre-processing activities like boiling and drying after harvesting it fetches more price than the existing i.e. selling raw turmeric. It was also seen that sometimes raw turmeric also fetches more price than dry because of the demand and supply condition. But in overall the pre-processing brings more return to the farmer. From the marginal analysis it is concluded that by adopting the proposed modification the farmer get a worth of 13400 per ha as net change.so in this context it was concluded that farmer should undertake some value addition so that he can get more return with low investment 

Marketing channels

The prevailing three marketing channels are:

  1. Channel-I Producer → Small trader → Big trader → Processor Retailer → Consumer 
  2. Channel-II: Producer → Big trader → Processor → Retailer → Consumer 
  3. Channel-III Producer → KASAM → Processor → Retailer → Consumer 

In channel-I, small trader act as the important market intermediary and producer sell the produce to the trader with keeping very low profit. Approximately 75-80 per cent of the produce of the district go through this channel. 

In channel-II, farmer directly sells the produce to the big trader by investing some marketing cost. In this channel, farmer get some more return but to go through this farmer has to supply more as per the demand of the big traders, but the farmers are mainly marginal and small they cannot fulfill the demand. In this channel approximately 10-12 per cent of the produce goes through. 

In channel-III, KASAM is the main linkage to export the product to national as well as international destination. It helps in making organic turmeric as a notified commodity of Kandhamal district. Nearly 5 to 8 per cent of the total produce goes through this channel. 

Constraints faced in production and marketing 

The district has a very good scope for organic cultivation, but there are so many constraints present in the study area. The farmers as well as traders and KASAM face problems during the production and marketing of organic turmeric. 

Constraints faced by the farmers  

The major problems faced by the growers in production is high cost of labour followed by personal obligation, financial weakness, etc.

Strengths:
Less irrigation required; required less capital investment; no need of chemical fertilizer; availability of cultivable land; fertile soil; favourable climate; need less care; easy and long storage capacity; medicinal value; daily kitchen requirement; industrial use; high preservative value
Weaknesses:
Limited access to modern technology; lack of scientific drying yard; no organic manure used; traditional farming practices; no improved variety available; no technology transfer training are received by farmer; low yield; no use of irrigation; no market information system; actual market demand not known
Opportunities:
Land under turmeric cultivation can be increased; employment of poor; environmental friendly; scope of more value addition; research needs on varietal improvement and other practices; human resources; purely organic; expanding national international market; value addition potential
Threats:
Degradation of local and races; deforestation; incoherent government policy; low curcumin content; colour of turmeric; marketing and price risk

Price spread analysis 

It is the difference between the price paid by the consumer and the price received by the producer. It mainly consists of marketing cost and marketing margin. Price spread of marketing in channel-I. Marketing efficiency of organic turmeric was found to be 0.66, 0.67 and 0.33 in channel-I, channel-II and channel-III respectively. Therefore, Channel – II is more efficient than channel –I followed by Channel-III. Women are mostly engaged in the cultivation of Haladi. It is mainly used in the households and only a small part of it 20% of the harvest is sold in the local market/ haats. Middlemen are mostly engaged in the trade. 

Post-harvest and Value addition

Organization of agriculture along the value-chain framework has been conceived as one of the strategies to bring more efficiency in the agricultural sector. Changing demand in the global market for organic products and the growing interest of organic products also require matching appropriate design and structure of the value chain for the products. In the context of this article, value chains analysis of organic turmeric will be presented. The initiative is to understand the working of the production practices and supply chain prevailing and recommend to achieve the goal of marketing and make the district as an organic spice marketing hub not only in Odisha but also in India as well as in international level. 

Asymmetry of Information 

The small and marginal farmers in the district who are the main stakeholder in the value chain have very less bargaining power over price as they are highly dependent on the actors in the chain like local traders. They have very limited access to information about the price, quality issues as well as standards. These governance structures are often challenging for the resource poor producers, who lack the resources or skills to obtain and sustain the necessary certification, quality standards, and skills to undertake processing to increase their bargaining power. The transparency in the flow of information to small scale producers is low. Limitations in increasing bargaining power at production level in India is low education level of smallholder producers, less marketing experiences, monopoly turmeric market structure and low economic scale of production. 

Processing activities and margin at each stage of the value chain 

Turmeric goes through various value additions from production to final consumption. However, the major value addition done prior to reaching the domestic consumer mostly include primary processing or making dried turmeric and secondary processing of making powder out of dried ones. The tentative calculation done by assuming the price of the dried turmeric to be at Rs 48/kg and that of powder to be at Rs 120/Kg to the consumers. However, due to high fluctuation of price, especially of dried turmeric (from Rs 45 to Rs 75 in 2015), the selling price and profit margin can alter significantly. 

When the farm gate price is Rs 48/Kg, there is a margin of Rs 4.02/kg approximately to the farmers. since most of the farmers conduct boiling and drying activities, the profit margin of the farmers can reach to Rs 4.02/Kg while selling in dried form. When sell in raw form the margin reach to Rs 2.78/kg. The local traders purchasing dried turmeric, with small processing(cleaning, polishing, storage ) and selling it to the big trader making an approximate profit of Rs 3 /Kg with their selling price of the dried turmeric being Rs 51/Kg. 

The big trader purchase the semi processed dried turmeric from the small traders and selling it to the wholesaler (processor) with a profit margin of Rs 6 / kg with their selling price Rs57/kg. The greater value addition is done during the processing of the powder with packaging and marketing. The profit margin for processors is approximately Rs11/kg, while selling at Rs 67/Kg. Since, the market price for the powder is moreover constant; the profit margin of the retailer varies significantly with variation in price of dried form. The estimated average profit margin for the wholesalers comes around 5.83% and that of retailer is 30.66%. 

Losses associated with processing at each stage 

The major loss occurs after the pre-processing of harvested turmeric i.e. boiling and drying. The conversion ratio from fresh to dry is kept as 1:5, i.e., from 500 Kg fresh turmeric, 100 Kg dried turmeric is produced. But to get more return farmer himself carried out these operations with their own cost. From the partial budgeting analysis done in the previous chapter it was concluded that with this pre-processing farmer gets extra Rs 13,400 per hectare as dried turmeric fetch 4 to 5 times more price than raw turmeric. At the processing (wholesaling) level a loss of 25 % was calculated i.e. from 1 kg dried turmeric 750 gm of powder turmeric was obtained. At the retailer level also a loss of 5% was considered. 

Certification

Under organic farming, processing methods also should be based on mechanized, physical and biological processes to maintain the vital quality of organic ingredient throughout each step of its processing. All the ingredients and additives used in processing should be of agriculture origin and certified organic. In cases where an ingredient of organic agriculture origin is not available in sufficient quality or quantity, the certification programme authorizes use of non-organic raw materials subject to periodic re-evaluation.

Labelling should clearly indicate the organic status of the product as “produce of organic agriculture” or a similar description when the requirements of the standard are fulfilled. Moreover organic and non-organic products should not be stored and transported together except when labelled or physically separated.

Certification and labeling is usually done by an independent body to provide a guarantee that the production standards are met. The government of India has taken steps to have indigenous certification system to help small and marginal growers and to issue valid organic certificates through certifying agencies accredited by APEDA. The inspectors appointed by the certification agencies will carry out inspection of the farm operations through records maintained and by periodic site inspections. Documentation of farm activities is must for acquiring certification especially when both conventional and organic crops are raised. Group certification programmes are also available for organized group of producers and processors with similar production systems located in geographical proximity.

International demand and trade

Turmeric is in high demand in the Middle East, Holland, Germany and other developed countries. It is exported by traders and co-operatives. Haladi is most often referred to as the Indian saffron, turmeric is known to possess healing properties. As one of the most multifaceted spices, it holds anti-inflammatory and wound-healing qualities. It is due to these reasons that turmeric is in high demand in the domestic and the international market. In 2020, with exports worth more than 225 million U.S. dollars, India was the leading exporter of turmeric worldwide. Turmeric added value of about 43 billion rupees to the Indian economy. Haladi is priced just like any other agricultural commodity depending considerably on the seasonal patterns and market arrival. Since turmeric is a Kharif crop, its peak arrival season lies between March and April. In the financial year 2021, the price of turmeric in the southern city of Chennai was over 118 rupees per kilogram. Over the past few years, slight fluctuations in the price were seen. 

Enhancing Turmeric Productivity and Value Chain

Turmeric cultivation holds great significance in the Kandhamal district; however, its productivity has been declining over the years. To meet both domestic demand and export requirements, it is crucial to increase the productivity of turmeric. However, this cultivation is capital-intensive and requires substantial investment.

Various technological interventions have shown promising results in increasing rhizome yield. Practices such as rhizome treatment, soil application of biocontrol agents, crop rotation, mulching, and plant protection measures have contributed to a 20-25% increase in rhizome yield at the farmers’ fields. Additionally, the application of irrigation has led to a further 20-30% increase in yield, although many farmers are currently not utilizing irrigation methods.

To address the challenge of enhancing productivity, it is essential to promote eco-friendly production technologies among the farming community. This involves testing and refining the indigenous technical knowledge possessed by farmers with modern crop cultivation techniques.

An in-depth analysis of the turmeric value chain highlights several key areas that require attention. These include the introduction of appropriate turmeric varieties, ensuring seed quality, determining irrigation requirements, providing organic manure and biofertilizers, adopting scientific drying and processing methods, improving post-harvest management practices, exploring value addition opportunities, facilitating access to finance, and establishing a transparent e-tendering system for turmeric marketing.

It is important to recognize that there are diverse interests among the actors involved in turmeric production and the market. The production side actors are primarily concerned with accessing capital, market assurances (price and quantity), and obtaining the highest possible prices from the market. On the other hand, market actors expect shared risks and inputs, assurances of quality and quantity, and market-led price determination from the production side.

By addressing these challenges and aligning the interests of different stakeholders, we can pave the way for a more prosperous and sustainable turmeric industry.

Ravi S. Behera
Ravi S. Behera
Mr. Ravi Shankar Behera, PGDAEM, National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad is an independent freelance Consultant and Author based in Bhubaneswar. He is an Honorary Advisor to grassroots Voluntary Organizations on Food Security, Forest and Environment, Natural Resource Management, Climate Change and Social Development issues. Ravi has lived and worked in various states of India and was associated with international donors and NGOs over the last twenty three years including ActionAid, DanChurchAid, Embassy of Sweden/Sida, Aide et Action, Sightsavers, UNICEF, Agragamee, DAPTA and Practical Action. He has a keen interest in indigenous communities and food policy issues.
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