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Purpose-Led Performance May 17, 2024

Expanding our Support for Sustainable Spices in India

sustainable spices in India


India has a rich history of cultivating spices, dating back nearly 3,000 years. Spices indigenous to India include turmeric and cardamom, two of the five spices targeted for a multi stakeholder partnership promoting sustainable agriculture and community resilience. The project spans six Indian states and has been jointly funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), McCormick, and our joint venture, AVT McCormick Ingredients. The overall aim of the project is to strengthen farmers’ capacity to make production practices more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Overall, the program objective is to increase productivity and farmers’ income, improve their livelihoods and maintain a stable supply of sustainably grown spices. It includes initiatives targeting female farmers with the aim of reducing gender inequalities in the supply chain.

Dr. Poonam Pandey, our Sustainability Project Manager based in India, is collaborating with local field teams on project implementation, starting with a baseline survey for the Grown for Good standard. “Sensitization sessions were conducted, explaining the program and what compliance entailed,” said Poonam. “Then after the baseline we moved onto sustainable agriculture training.” 

A group of lead farmers were identified for the initial training, who will then go on to train other farmers within their community. While traditionally training is attended mainly by male farmers, Poonam is in a unique position to shift gender biases.

Dr. Poonam Pandey, Sustainability Project Manager

“I’ll ask why the women farmers are not there and say...I am a woman here to train you, so why can’t you bring the women from your family to training.” - Dr. Poonam Pandey, Sustainability Project Manager


McCormick’s Grown for Good framework advocates a holistic approach to initiatives in farming communities. In addition to teaching good agricultural practices which lead to farm-level sustainability certification, we are also committed to improving the resilience of farmers and their communities. This approach closely aligns with GIZ’s and has been incorporated into the project plan in India. One work stream focuses on agribusiness management, which includes training in marketing, basic financial management and cost management and reduction. Participation by female farmers is being highly encouraged and tracked, with the aim of establishing women’s agri-entrepreneur groups to set up post-harvest management services and other value-added agricultural services. This work has already inspired some female entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu to set up small businesses producing biological inputs to sell to farmers.

Poonam describes the project as synergetic, as the farmers also share insights with her. “We need the farmers to grow our spices, and they benefit from the knowledge and resources we provide,” she explains. “But the communication isn’t just one-way.” For Poonam, the most important thing is to stay connected and work together for the good of all.

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