The Sustainable Spices Initiative India (SSI-I), part of the global SSI program, is an industry-led voluntary multi-stakeholder platform established as a section 8, not-for-profit to drive sustainable sourcing in the Indian spice industry, while improving the livelihoods of producers, and giving consumers – both locally and globally – increased access to sustainable, food-safe spices.

By participating in SSI-I, farmers benefit from lower input costs, better managed farms, potential for higher incomes and a more sustainable future.  Food manufacturers, buyers and retailers will benefit from a higher quality product, a more sustainable source of supply, greater supply chain transparency and a more cost-effective means of improving farming practices. Read our brochure here or visit

Our approaches are designed to drive sustainability from niche to norm in mainstream markets, delivering impact on SDGs. That’s what our program vision is all about, creating a long-term roadmap for working together with our members.

Vision: To make transparent, credible and traceable sustainable spices in India a mainstream commodity, serving both domestic and international markets.

Mission: To bring sustainable spices to scale by engaging farmers and capturing a 25% share of Indian spices production by 2025.

India is the largest producer and consumer of spices in the world today. Of the total volume of spices produced in India, only 10% is exported; however, this 10% constitutes 40% of the global exports for all spices. As such, the spices industry has a unique position in the Indian economy. However, as a largely agrarian country, there are several areas for improvement to make the farming sector more sustainable. Sustainability challenges across the sector include:

Non-discriminated use of agrochemicals:  A combination of factors has resulted in overuse of chemical pesticides and banned substances leading to high residue levels; lack of protective equipment leading to human health hazards; and improper disposal of chemicals resulting in water contamination.

Insecure Farmer Livelihood: With high cost of production (requiring optimization of inputs), low and insecure farmer incomes, difficulties in accessing markets, limited access to health care and education and collective bargaining power has meant that increasing farming is not a sustainable livelihood alternative.

Labour issues: Some of the challenges faced with a migratory and large labour force in the small holder context has resulted in a number of social and labour challenges such as child labour, poor working conditions, proper wages and limited protection of workers’ rights as a result of the informal nature of the worker agreements.

Using the momentum and drive of the private sector and agencies such as the government, SSI-I pulls together different areas of convergence to scale the impact of smaller sustainable agriculture initiatives in the space.

The key immediate priority for sustainable spices production is food safety. Sustainable spices must be compliant with Maximum Residue Level (MRL) requirements in relation to pesticide residues. SSI-I program principles include:

  • Responsible agrochemical management
  • Water management
  • Smallholder inclusion and profitability
  • Gender empowerment
  • Proper wages and improved working conditions

There are five core components of SAPs for spices production, which considers not just the food safety and agronomic implications of sustainability but also the economics and developmental aspects of the farming community:

Food Safety: A key requirement for participating farmers is that spices meet pesticide residue and food safety requirements.

Community Development and Well-being: Community development is a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems. This type of collective action undertaken at a grassroots level ranges from small initiatives within a small group to large initiatives that involve broader community.

Optimum Available Resources Management: This involves optimising resource systems, through appropriate management practices, to enable users to maximise the economic, environmental and social benefits from limited available resources whilst maintaining or enhancing the ecological support functions of the same resources.

Proactive Farming Systems: The primary objective of proactive farming systems is to develop farmers as businessmen with a focus on improving productivity, increasing profitability, ensuring sustainability and guaranteeing ethical working conditions, and an equitable distribution of the results of production (labour wages etc.).

Value Addition Activities: The focus is on unlocking innovations that enhance livelihoods and embed sustainability within the farming system.


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