Convening a local platform: Sustainable Spice Initiative – India

A pre-platform meeting was held on the 19-20th of August, 2015 in India’s spices capital – Kochi with the members of the SSI India working group and some selected guests.

The meeting was organized by IDH in an effort to capitalize on the growing momentum within the SSI to address India specific issues in the spices sector over the past few years.

The first day of the meet looked at laying the groundwork for forming a vision and mission for the India platform as well as looking at potential stakeholders and governance structures for the SSI-India. Much of the foundational work for the SSI-India will be credited to the participants of this meeting for their willingness to work through the challenges facing the Indian spices sector openly.

The second day included an exchange of cross-sectoral experiences with the IDH cotton program. One of the guests included in the session was BCI council member, implementation partner and cotton ginner and trader, Amit Shah of the Amit Group of Companies. His experience in sustainability was highly valued by the participants as was apparent by the rousing and detailed Q&A that followed after and also during his presentation.

Dr. S.V. Reddy of the Participatory Rural Development Initiatives Society (PRDIS) then took time to detail the activities that will be implemented on the ground for the first ever combined SSI project on chillies in Guntur, AP approved by the Steering Committee of the SSI in June, 2015. PRDIS has been implementing programs in sustainable agriculture for over a decade and has also been awarded a national honour in promoting sustainable agriculture in India.

As a step towards scalable projects and a step over and above the backward integration projects, which have till now been the focus of the SSI, the SSI-PRDIS project will look to train 5000 chilli farmers on sustainability criteria beyond compliance on pesticide residues.

The participants of the meeting encouraged the activities of PRDIS and also assured their support in helping make the project a success. The PRDIS-SSI project will be an opportunity for the SSI members to learn from each other and also from PRDIS on how to create impactful and scalable sustainability projects on the ground, in a pre-competitive setting.

The two-day meeting was closed on a high note with renewed confidence in the potential for sustainability in spices in India. IDH along with its program partners will look to launch the SSI-India in 2016.