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ITC’s leaf tobacco arm launches 5-year expansion plan
Hindu Business Line - 10 Sep 2008

The three principal items on the current menu are organic chillies, coriander and turmeric. 

Indian Leaf Tobacco Development Division (ILTD), ITC Ltd’s leaf tobacco arm, has taken up a major portfolio expansion to move into organic spices and medicinal and aromatic plants, with a special foray into the north eastern region. A five-year action plan based on integrated pest management (IPM) and organic farming, has been taken up to carry spices exports to a higher level from the current Rs 70 crore, in close association with the Foods Division of the company.

The three principal items on the current menu are organic chillies, coriander and turmeric.

It is learnt that product development was already in progress for a planned entry into spice oils and oleoresins, as well as extracts of medicinal and aromatic plants.

Talking to Business Line here recently on the planned foray into spices exports, Mr S. Janardhan Reddy, CEO of ILTD Division, said the plan was to emerge as the “largest aggregator of organic spices in the country”.

To add more value

He said the plan was to do it differently, add more value to benefit farmers, as “we do not want to be in the ‘me too product’ segment for spices”. He felt the market potential for high-end products in this segment was quite high.

He said efforts were on to establish market presence across all major spices producing and trading centres in the country, such as Guntur, Warangal, Khammam, Nagpur, Virudunagar for chillies, Nizamabad, Erode, Salem, Sangli, Cudappah, and Duggirala for turmeric and Ramgunjmandi, Kota and Baran for coriander.

A range of whole and value-added spices are currently being exported to countries such as he US, the UK, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Pointing out that ITC was fast emerging as the largest supplier of chilli powder to the UK market, he said apart from fully meting the requirements of ITC’s ‘Aashirvaad’ range of spices, supplies were being made to all segments of the domestic market.

Backward integration

As a backward integration move, the company has already set up a new spices processing unit near Guntur (at a cost of Rs 15 crore).

Our ongoing programme is aimed at motivating the farmers to grow more organic spices through advanced IPM techniques, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, said Mr Reddy. ITC is also expected to invest in the proposed new spices park coming up at Guntur. Pointing out that the plan was to source over 1,000 tonnes in the next few years, he said ILTD has already initiated steps to bring some 100 acres and 15 acres under chilli in M.P. and Karnataka respectively during the coming season.

Spices complexes

ILTD is also in the process of creating integrated spices complexes in major spices production centres, aimed at bringing all the primary processing, handling and storage under one roof at a single location.

Comprehensive crop mapping across spices and spice growing zones for critical quality attributes has been taken up by a 20-strong crop development team.

Mr Reddy clarified that direct sourcing would be done from the farm gate, thereby, minimising multiple intermediaries and maximising returns to farmers, ensuring quality produce with a strategic cost advantage.

He said the promotion and facilitation was being done through village organisations, SHGs and NGOs in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.