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Focus on . . . Spices

The term 'spice' is often defined as plants or parts of plants (possibly dried) that are used to enhance the flavour or taste of human food. However, for this edition of New Agriculturist, we use the term "spice" for tropical plants with aromatic fruits or barks as opposed to temperate climate plants with aromatic leaves, traditionally known as "herbs". Although at most forty different spice plants are of global economic and culinary importance, many more are used as condiments locally, in the region of their natural occurrence. In this edition we focus on some of the recent developments in growing, processing or marketing spices and how these impact on small-scale farmers in developing countries.


Quality - an added value

Imaginative ways to spend hours in the kitchen dominate weekday TV schedules in many western countries. It may be insulting to suggest that the gastronomic whims of the affluent could offer a chink of hope for some of those who subsist on or below the poverty line, but ...

A cracked industry?

More spices are grown per hectare on one particular island than in any other place in the world. Cloves, cinnamon, pimento and ginger are all produced, amongst others, but it is nutmeg which is...

Organic spices fuel the peace in Guatemala

Organic farming, guerilla war and environmental protection: civil war in Guatemala brought together some unlikely associations and now income from organic spices appears to be sustaining the peace...

A little cinnamon with your coffee?

The sweet taste of cinnamon is often associated or combined with coffee but it is in Indonesia that cinnamon and coffee crops are intercropped to provide a sustainable agricultural approach in the forest margins of Sumatra......

Vanilla viruses

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice on the world market and a valuable source of foreign exchange for several countries. However, diseases caused by viruses are an increasingly common problem. Scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand are trying to ...

Paprika producers prospering in Zimbabwe

Last year, Zimbabwe earned more than US$8 million from export of paprika. But achieving the quality that has led to such significant export earnings has not been easy. Establishing and maintaining the standards required by the international market has required...

Vietnam: staking a "King's" share

When it comes to production and export of spices, India has reigned supreme for many hundreds, if not thousands of years but, when it comes to volume of world production, there is undeniably a new contender to the "King's" throne...

Preserving the living and the dead

You only have to think of Egyptian embalmers or ayurvedic medicine, to realise that the preservative and medicinal uses of spices form one of the oldest of sciences. Yet, it is only in recent years that 'modern science' has started paying much attention to the properties of spices...

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