Spices -- a review of problems and challenges

This paper will review present and future technical problems in the use of spices, and indicate areas in which there is a need for new research and development studies. It is written from the viewpoint of a member of staff of the Tropical Products Institute, which has two roles to play in the field of spices. Firstly, the Institute has a responsibility to assist the less developed countries to reap the maximum benefit from their renewable natural resources. Secondly, it attempts to assist importers and consumers on problems of continuity of supply and quality of raw material. I will, therefore, be paying particular attention to the problems of primary production.

From the producer aspect, the cultivation and export of spices is of considerable significance. The production of paprika, certain spice seeds, and herbs is a substantial industry for some developed countries in the temperate zones. In many tropical countries, spice production has an even greater role in the economy. Spices are frequently the only cash crop for many farmers in a number of coutnries in the Third World. The export of spices is very important as a means of obtaining foreign exchange in such countries. Several very small countries are heavily dependent upon spice exports; Grenada and its nutmegs are a prime example. Some of the larger Third World countries also place a considerable emphasis on spice exports. These include India, Indonesia, and China.

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