Kochi: To address food safety and security laws for the farmers, stakeholders in the spice industry have come up with a novel idea of forming the World Spice Organisation.

The Kochi-based organisation is a common platform for all stakeholders -- farmers, processors and end users -- to come together and work for sustainable development of the spice industry, WSO Chairman Philip Kuruvilla informed.

There was a need for an organised movement of partners from across the globe to build a healthy and responsible future for the industry to celebrate its success and face the challenges and to smoothen out the rough patches together, he said.

WSO will seek to identify areas of potential growth, ensure proper allocation of resources, interact with the academia, engage with the governments on legislation and help farmers increase production and productivity through implementing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

There was a need to increase spice production to non-traditional areas. Population growth, urbanisation, loss of arable land at the rate of 0.5 per cent every year due to salt and alkali leaches are major threats to food production and food security, he said.

There is also rising demand for spices. However, landholdings in growing countries are small, making penetration of modern technology and agricultural practices difficult, Kuruvilla, the former Chairman of the All-India Spice Exporters Forum, said.

Spices are finding newer applications in food, cosmetics and nutraceuticals, but there are various challenges. Food safety concerns have to be addressed at the grassroot level
together with the producer.

Synthite Director George Paul said there are multiple organisations in the spices industry, but no connectivity among them. The WSO will work with National Spice Association
to harmonise testing standards and methods for spices.

The primary effort of the organisation is to facilitate the spice industry in dealing with issues on food safety and sustainability, Kuruvilla said.

WSO will be the nodal point for all spice organizations across countries for meeting the objectives of global food safety and sustainability in herbs and spices and connecting
to the global spice industry.

It will also work with organisations like UNCTAD, WTO, Codex, FAO and ITC and seek their support in implementing programmes in food safety and sustainability.

The members of the organsation will include individuals and organisations, firms, joint stock companies and corporate entities involved in the spices and herbs sector.