By Irene Ebrahimi Darsinouei
“What you seek is seeking you” – Rumi
We are driving across the southern Indian provinces of Kerala and Tamilnadu, to receive best practices training from experienced ginger and turmeric farmers and processors. Over the last few days we have seen demonstrations of the seed preparation, planting, mulching and harvesting of ginger and turmeric, and have visited processing factories where we witnessed the cleaning, drying, cutting, grinding and quality testing of the products.
Our goal is to learn from these best practices and adapt them to the Ethiopian and Rwandan contexts, and the task ahead seems daunting to say the least. This week has not only been inspiring, but also an eye-opener to the complex and hard work (and machinery!) that goes into successfully preparing seeds and soil, growing the crops while avoiding diseases and processing them in an efficient and clean manner.
Our speakers this week however have not missed a single opportunity to tell us that there is great potential in this sector for us. When visiting Synthite Industries, the world’s largest processing factory for the value added products from spices, their CEO George Paul said of their success, ‘We are people with ordinary talents, but with extraordinary perseverance that made us successful in our space’. To our group he added, ‘considering the virgin soil available in Africa, I see great opportunity in agriculture development in this region, in particular spices.’
The unpoluted soil that is available on the African continent is considered to be a major advantage. In addition, there is still tremendous potential for growth, which in many other nations has largely been exhausted. What inspired the group this week was to see how these successful companies started out small only decades ago, and were able to grow into the best practice they are for us today.
The competition in the spices sector, our speakers have warned, is fierce. To stay ahead of the competition, continuous research and development is required, as well as being able to find new sourcing destinations.
There is a definite interest in Ethiopian and Rwandan ginger and turmeric, and as it turns out, companies would be willing to transfer the necessary know-how and technology to the farmers, in order to source spices. So you see, “what you seek is seeking you”.